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Tree & Shrub Diagnostics and Pinewood Nematode Assay

Guidelines for Sending Tree & Shrub Specimens:

UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery and Urban Forestry Program

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Please submit samples based on the following guidelines for tree and shrub diseases, tree and shrub insect identification, and landscape weed identification.

Fill out the Tree and Shrub Diagnostic Form as completely as possible. The information supplied will enable a more thorough and accurate diagnosis. This form must accompany each specimen sent to the lab. Include your phone number and e-mail address so that we may contact you for further information or inform you of the diagnosis.

  1. Disease Samples: Send several branch and/or twig sections (approximately 6-12" in length) along with foliage (leaves and needles) showing the range of symptoms exhibited by the plant(s). Select portions of the plant that were recently killed (i.e. leaves, shoot tips, branch segments, roots, etc.) and the margins between diseased and healthy tissues (i.e. the margin between cankered and healthy branch tissue). Plant material that has been dead for more than one season is often of limited diagnostic value because it contains secondary organisms that make detection of the primary pathogen difficult. 
    • Place leaves, branches, and other plant parts in a plastic bag and seal it. Do not add moist towels or moisten the sample before sealing it.
    • When sending entire plants, dig rather than pull roots from the soil. Wrap roots and attached soil in a plastic bag and secure to the trunk with a twist tie. Place a second bag over the foliage and punch a few holes through this bag for ventilation. Do not add additional water or moist towels.
    • Vascular wilt specimens: Plants or plant parts that suddenly wilt may be infected with a vascular disease. Branch or stem sections 1/4" to 1" in diameter and 6" to 12" long should be taken from the wilting plant or recently wilted plant part. Avoid sending plant material that has been dead for any length of time.
  2. Insect Samples: Immature and soft-bodied insects should be placed in 70% ethyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol is not ideal, but may work). Other insects must be carefully packaged. Do not place loose insects into envelopes for mailing, as the automatic process for handling mail will most likely destroy the specimens.
  3. Pinewood Nematode Testing: Testing pine and hemlock logs for the presence of pinewood nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus) prior to export is required by a number of countries. Sampling must be overseen by a USDA agent- please contact the USDA in your state for more information. Once received by the lab, samples take 48-72 hours to process.

Diagnostic Fees (payment payable to University of Massachusetts):

  • Tree or shrub disease analysis - $50
  • Tree or shrub insect ID - $50
  • Pinewood nematode testing- $50

Payment Options

By check: Enclose your payment with the sample. Make checks payable to the University of Massachusetts

By credit card: Enclose a copy of your credit card sales confirmation with the sample.

Click here to pay by credit card

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