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Sudden Oak Death Blitz 2012 Results

The incidence of Sudden Oak Death in Atherton dropped dramatically in 2012, largely due to owner removal of infected and vulnerable trees.  In 2012, 22 volunteers for the early June "SOD Blitz" sampled 31 trees and found only one that was infected (3%). In 2011, 6 out of 41 trees were infected (15%). In 2010, 3 out of 19 trees sampled were infected (16%). In all three years the infections were limited to the westernmost neighborhoods of Atherton. This year's infection rates were substantially higher in Woodside (16%) and Portola Valley (14%) than in Atherton.

The complete 2012 SOD Blitz report from the U.C. Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab is available at   

The annual SOD Blitz samples California Bay Laurels, effective carriers of the disease, in order to best measure the spread of the mold which causes sudden oak death. The pathogen that causes sudden oak death, Phytophthora ramorum, can infect 107 different plants, including camellias and rhododendrons.  Most plants survive but some, especially bay laurels, spread the disease to oaks.  Once infection is detected in an oak it is generally too late to save the tree. The disease spreads most rapidly in years with heavy spring rains.

Information on the disease can be found at  Also see an earlier Tree Committee Report on Treatment for Sudden Oak Death.

Live Oak The Atherton Tree Committee is a volunteer, non-profit, community based organization dedicated to the preservation of Atherton's heritage trees. The committee participates in a variety of programs designed to educate residents about the value of trees in our environment and to encourage appreciation and protection of our urban forest resources. For more information about town ordinances, policies, inspections, and plan reviews contact the Atherton Town Arborist, Kevin Kielty (650-515-9783, or link to the Town of Atherton Web Site. For more information about the Tree Committee contact Rachel Croft, President (650 323-4714,