Kansas Department of Agriculture: Walmarts cooperating, residents need to throw out rhododendrons as investigation continues into sudden oak death Featured

Damage from sudden oak death syndrome Damage from sudden oak death syndrome Kansas Department of Agriculture photos

Walmart stores across Kansas are cooperating with guidance from the Kansas Department of Agriculture to remove certain plants after a link was recently confirmed between those plants and sudden oak death syndrome.

Last Friday, the Ag Department linked infected rhododendrons originating from an Oklahoma nursery to 60 unspecified Walmart stores in Kansas and a Home Depot specifically in Pittsburg. Those outlets have been removing their rhododendrons in cooperation with the state Ag Department, USDA and officials in other states because there is no treatment for sudden oak death.

The Emporia store does not have rhododendrons. The store has not confirmed whether those flowers were disposed because of recent concerns or whether it ran out of stock earlier.

Besides the work with Walmart, the Ag Department is also telling residents to destroy any rhododendrons bought at Walmarts at any time from April 1 to this past Friday. Destruction methods include:

*On-site burning
*Deep burial
*Double-bagging, including the root ball, and disposal in a sanitary landfill where permitted

Sudden oak death has killed large areas of oaks and other native plants in California and Oregon, and over 100 species of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants are susceptible to the disease. It does not appear to be harmful to humans or animals.

Infected rhododendrons have now been confirmed in 10 states, including Kansas.

For more information, go online to www.agriculture.ks.gov/sod or www.suddenoakdeath.org

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