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Tree & Shrub Diagnostics and Pinewood Nematode Assay

Guidelines for Sending Tree & Shrub Specimens:

For further information, visit: 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 plants/leaves/branches etc. showing a range of symptoms that are representative of the problem. Select samples from the area at the margin between the diseased portion of the plant and the healthy tissue. Dead plant material is of no diagnostic value because it often 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 4" to 6" 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

Return to the Plant Diagnostics Laboratory overview page