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Mr. Smarty Plants - Stressed Texas persimmon, Diospyros texana

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Saturday - September 12, 2009

From: Lago Vista, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Stressed Texas persimmon, Diospyros texana
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I planted a 5' Texas Persimmon last May..it is watered by drip irrigation and has done well, putting on lots of new leaves and looking healthy as can be. That is, until several days ago when it began to look stressed. Now the underside of the each leaf is covered with small black dots, smaller than the head of a pin. These black dots are also on the limbs. On close inspection, there are many nearly transparent insects on the underside of leaves also. The insects are anywhere from a millimeter to nearly 2 millimeters long and they're difficult to identify since they are nearly clear. Poor persimmon tree! What are these clear bugs, what are the black dots, and what can I do to help get the tree back to good health?

ANSWER:

The transparent insects sound like aphids.  Even though Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon) is touted as been relatively disease and pest free, aphids can infest almost any plant.  The black spots may be the beginning of sooty mold fungus that grows on the sticky, sweet "honeydew" produced and deposited on the leaves by the aphids.  The Texas Agricultural Extension Service article, "Aphids in Texas Landscapes", has a number of suggestions for controlling these pests including biological control methods (lady beetles and greenlacewings), mechanical means (high pressure water spraying) and pesticides (insecticidal soaps and oils).  You can see photos and information about various aphids in A Field Guide to Common Insects on the Travis County Extension Service page.

Eriophyid mites are another possibility. The are extremely tiny and cause galls to form on leaves.  There is one of the mites, Aceria theospyri, that is specific to Diospyros sp., but others could potentially cause problems.  Treatments with insecticidal soaps and oils are recommended for these. (Notice the galls on the leaves in the photographs below.)

An article by Quintin Lee Holdeman (Persimmons for Louisiana's Children—Young and Old) has a section describing other pests and diseases of persimmons (Diospyros sp.).  One of the pests, Persimmon Psylla nymphs (Trioza diospyri), feeds exclusively on persimmon species but its description doesn't really match yours.

Good luck!  I hope your persimmon survives and thrives!


Diospyros texana

Diospyros texana

 

 

 

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