This 2006 photo provided by Sewanee: The University of the South shows dead leaves on redbay trees on St. Catherines Island, Ga. Around 2000, a beetle no bigger than a poppy seed snuck into Georgia, probably through packing material unloaded at the Savannah port. The Asian ambrosia beetle spread rapidly, carrying with it a fungus that it farms within redbays to feed its young. That fungus clogs the flow of water in redbays, turning them brown and killing them. Since 2002, researchers have mapped the spread of the resulting disease, laurel wilt, from North Carolina to Florida and west to Alabama.

AP Photo

This 2006 photo provided by Sewanee: The University of the South shows dead leaves on redbay trees on St. Catherines Island, Ga. Around 2000, a beetle no bigger than a poppy seed snuck into Georgia, probably through packing material unloaded at the Savannah port. The Asian ambrosia beetle spread rapidly, carrying with it a fungus that it farms within redbays to feed its young. That fungus clogs the flow of water in redbays, turning them brown and killing them. Since 2002, researchers have mapped the spread of the resulting disease, laurel wilt, from North Carolina to Florida and west to Alabama.

Coastal Georgia tree ‘ecologically extinct’

The Associated Press

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SAVANNAH — Not long ago, healthy redbay trees were easy to find in coastal Georgia. Related to the avocado, these evergreens grew 45 feet tall, with black berries that fed songbirds and aromatic leaves that lent their flavor to traditional gumbo.

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