Be Afraid – Texas Root Rot is Scary!

Controlling-Cotton-Root-Rot from arborilogical.com - Tucson Landscaper In honor of October and Halloween, cialis generic  this month our theme is everything underground related to landscaping.  You often don’t think about what’s going on underground until you see a problem in your plants and trees above ground.  By then, the problem is probably pretty severe.

So, what’s so scary about Texas Root Rot or Cotton Root Rot as it’s also known.  Here’s what makes it a scary problem:

  • It often causes sudden death in susceptible plants in the summer. It can also cause a slow decline in cooler weather.
  • You need an expert in Texas Root Rot to identify it.
  • You can only replant infested soils with tolerant or immune plants.  All others will die.

Texas Root Rot is caused by a fungus called Phymatotrichopsis omnivora (= Phymatotrichum omnivorum).  This soil fungus can affect many dicot trees and shrubs.  There are almost 200,000 species of plants and trees that are in this group.  What is a dicot?  It’s a flowering plant with two embryonic seed leaves that appear at germination.  It’s probably easier to answer the question of what isn’t a dicot?  That would be a monocot.  A monocot is a plant like a palm tree.

How do you know if your plant or tree has Texas Root Rot?

It’s not easy.  It can look like a lot of other plant problems.  Here are some signs and symptoms:

  • It causes sudden wilt and death in warm weather.  This is because as the roots rot, the plant cannot get enough water.
  • The dead leaves don’t fall of the plant or tree.  They stay attached.
  • The infected roots must be examined under a microscope to get a positive identification of the fungus.
  • Mature trees can take awhile to show signs of declining from Texas Root Rot.  They may have been infected for some time before starting to wilt.

You find Texas Root rot in the Southwest and in Mexico.  You can notice large amounts of cotton fields that have dead cotton plants when it’s in the soil of growing cotton.  This is why it’s also called Cotton Rot.  Imagine the huge financial loss for cotton farmers when they have this rot.

The most frightening thing about Texas Root rot is that you can’t tell that it’s in the soil until you plant something.  It dies.  And, you get the roots examined.  You may go through several plants/trees before realizing that you have Texas Root Rot.  There are no preventative measures you can take.

Here are some of the plants that are considered to be extremely susceptible to Texas Root Rot:

  •  Fruit and nut trees
  • Ash, cottonwood, elms, figs, sycamore, bottle tree, silk oak, pepper tree and African sumac
  • Many shrubs including pomegranate, xylosma, cassia, Mexican bird of paradise, oleander, and roses
  • Annuals usually escape disease since they are in the ground such a short time

Plants and trees that are immune or very tolerant of Texas Root Rot:

  • Mesquites, palo verde, Atriplex, hackberry, jojoba
  • Cacti
  • All monocots, such as palms, yuccas and grasses
  • Citrus, eucalyptus, tamarisk, and pine are considered tolerant but cases of this rot have been found in these plants

You can find all the plants and trees that are tolerant or immune to Texas Root Rot here.

If you think you might have Texas Root Rot contact us for more information at (520) 370-5697 or the University of Arizona Extension Center for help.

Deborah Munoz-Chacon, Certified Arborist

Sonoran Oasis Landscaping


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33 Comments

  1. Wow, i didn’t know something like this existed.. thanks for the info, does this happen in the NY area?

    Reply
    • It happens in the southwest and Mexico.

      Reply
  2. wow.. this is entirely new info to me… Does the weather has something to do with the rot? Just wondering..

    Reply
    • The only thing the weather does is determines how quickly the plant dies.

      Reply
  3. I am always looking out for rot! I had a baby cypress to die on me last fall…

    Reply
    • Good to keep an eye out for it.

      Reply
  4. I just had an aha moment! After planting several avocado trees in my yard and having them all die, (exactly the way you describe here) I’m wondering if this was the cause??? Each time I uprooted the tree to discard it, there was hardly any roots to speak of…

    Reply
    • It could have been Texas Root Rot Loretta.

      Reply
  5. I so enjoy learning something new with your informative posts!

    Reply
    • Thanks Meli!

      Reply
  6. What can you do if you notice your tree has Texas root rot?

    Reply
    • Plant trees and shrubs that are not susceptible or are tolerant of the rot.

      Reply
  7. I have heard of this but did not know this much info about it. Does it happen in Arizona too?

    Reply
    • Yes! We see it a lot in Arizona.

      Reply
  8. I’ve seen it here and never knew what it was. Thanks for the education!

    Reply
    • You’re welcome Stephanie!

      Reply
  9. Great info about this. Now I know what to watch for and hopefully avoid it!

    Reply
    • Yes, we’d all like to avoid it.

      Reply
  10. I have seen a lot of plants like this, but never knew what the name was for this problem. Thank you for the information.

    Reply
    • You’re welcome Casey!

      Reply
  11. I always learn so much from your articles. Now I need to be on the look out for some fall plants we just had planted to make sure they don’t get any of this.

    Reply
  12. That’s interesting that it affects the soil unless immune plants are planted there. Great info here.

    Reply
  13. Well, that’s quite an honor you gave this problem that I hope to never see!

    Reply
  14. Good to know about these amazing plants you are featuring. I wish to see that in real life.

    Reply
  15. I never heard of cotton rot.
    I hope I will never see it if you know what I mean

    Reply
    • Keep away from the rot.

      Reply
  16. Wow I did not know this great informTion I know what to look out for

    Reply
  17. I never knew! I will keep my eyes peeled for this rot…crazy! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    Reply
  18. Never heard of this before! Very cool!

    Reply
  19. I had never heard of Texas root rot before reading this article:) Thank you for sharing. I will keep an eye out:)

    Reply
  20. When we were in Dallas, we had a tree experience this and it was my favorite. We had to let it go and treat the soil. Our nursery recommended not planting there for at least a year.

    Reply

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