Powerline Decline

Symptoms

Leaves near high voltage overhead power lines often exhibit chlorotic or necrotic tips (Figs. 1 and 2). In severe cases, the entire crown may become chlorotic with necrotic leaf tips. Necrotic tips of leaves may hang down. Palm death is relatively rare, however.

Cause

Electromagnetic fields within 2 to 5 feet of a high voltage power line appear to cause injury to palm foliage. Leaves do not need to physically contact the wires for injury to occur; injury often occurs on the side of the palm opposite the wires as well as those nearest to the lines.

Occurrence

Powerline decline is common wherever palms are planted under overhead power lines. Most species appear to be susceptible.

Additional comments

Visual symptoms on palms near overhead power lines is usually sufficient to diagnose this disorder.

Last updated May 2015

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