LA's Palm Trees Are Dying: Here's What That Means

Everywhere you turn in LA you’ll be greeted with a line of palm trees. Synonymous with Los Angeles’ luxurious reputation, almost every landmark is surrounded by palm trees. But these trees won’t be around much longer. A foreign weevil and a native fungus are killing off these trees, and they won’t be replaced.


What’s killing these trees are, as mentioned, a species of beetle and various fungi. The weevil is known as the South American palm weevil, which is moving from San Diego to LA. There are no known predators to the weevil. It kills the trees by burrowing into the leaf base where it’ll lay its eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae move into the trunk of the tree, then begin to eat the tree's core, causing it to rot. The other culprit most responsible is a fungus native to the state. It’ll normally be found in trees that are overwatered, targeting the tree from the trunk up, colonizing and clogging vessels the tree needs to survive.

Image Courtesy of The LA Times

As the climate has grown higher and higher in California, these beetles have grown in numbers feeding off of the palms. The conditions in LA make for the perfect breeding ground for vegetation eating bugs. Heat is the highest leading cause of death by weather in Los Angeles. Each year has gotten hotter and drier, it’s a big wake-up call to the city to show them first-hand how climate change is hitting home. Andy Lipkis, president of TreePeople, a California based advocacy group said to The Guardian, “It’s a wake-up call. Millions of trees are dying in southern California. One price tag for removing the dead trees over the next 30 years is $37bn. Trees have a much harder time growing and thriving in cities today because the climate is much harsher.”

These trees will likely last for decades or into the next century. There are only one native species of palm trees in LA, although it is not as recognizable as the ones that are imported. In the last five years, various trees have been planted to replace dying palms, but will not be at a recognizable height for some time. Besides the previously planted, no palm trees will be planted by the city. However, homeowners across the area will continue to plant the iconic tree. Hopefully, this proves a lesson that our climate is changing our country in more ways than we know.

 

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2 comments

Carla

Thanks for sharing this!

Samantha

Keep it coming! Love your blog posts at Karma Bikinis!

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