College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Plant Pathology

Purple needle eater threatens noble fir holiday boughs, trees

By Sylvia Kantor, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

chastagnerPUYALLUP, Wash. – Noble fir, the iconic tree of holiday greenery, is under attack by a disease known as purple needle eater. The mysterious disease attacks new growth, causing needles to turn purple and die. 

“A bough harvesting contractor wants to be able to go into a stand of trees and cut boughs like crazy without worrying about disease,” said Christmas tree expert Gary Chastagner. “In some cases, the needle cast problem is so bad there’s virtually no usable boughs at all.”

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