Disease ravages Florida palm trees

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There is an alarming tree trend throughout Florida that has experts urging homeowners in Clearwater to keep an eye on their palms.

Alexis Wells, Clearwater's Landscape Maintenance Manager has been checking palms in the city for a disease called Texas Phoenix Palm Decline, or TPPD.

"It happens very rapidly," Wells said. "There's no way to really tell when it's going to happen when it happens. We just see it and then we have to react from that point."

The disease can kill a palm in a matter of weeks and is believed to have impacted as many as a dozen in the city this year.

Wells said the focus should not be on the number of palms suffering from TPPD.

"Twelve may seem like a small number for most people, but for us in this industry, it is a large number," Wells said. "The fact that we're seeing more and more, we are worried that it could grow  faster and decimate the industry."

While palm fronds that die from natural age often hang flat against the palm trunk, Wells told FOX 13  a sign of TPPD is a browning of the fronds that happens so rapidly they won't have time to hang flat. After a few weeks, each row of fronds will also die.

"When it does [die], there's nothing to cure it. There's no way to bring it back," Wells said, adding  experts aren't sure how the disease spreads, making it a challenge to prevent.

The samples Wells has been taking are being sent to scientists at the University of Florida, who will  determine whether the trees are infected.

Wells recommends homeowners contact an expert if they believe their palm or palms might be affected.