The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has confirmed more than 70 Walmart stores and 18 Rural King stores in Indiana have received rhododendron plants infected with Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum).
Some of the plants were found in Columbus over the Memorial Day weekend, according to the DNR, with others located in Noblesville, South Bend, and Sullivan and Tippecanoe counties.
Workers from the state’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology are visiting stores across Indiana to destroy any stock that is determined to be infested with the pathogen and to quarantine any stock that is symptomatic.
Megan Abraham, Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology, said Columbus’ Walmarts and Rural King are among those believed to have had the rhododendrons that are being confiscated and destroyed.
The DNR has destroyed about 1,500 infested rhododendron across the state so far and pulled another 1,500 plants of other types from stores. Any quarantined material not infected will be released following testing at Purdue University.
DNR officials are also following up with homeowners who have notified state officials that they have purchased plants that could be infested or are seeing signs of a sick tree.