- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The city’s palm trees — as much a symbol of Los Angeles as the automobile, the movie stars and the beach — are vanishing.

The trees are dying of old age and a fungal disease, disappearing one by one from parks and streets, and city planners are replacing them with oaks, sycamores and other species that are native to Los Angeles and offer more shade.

Not all palms are infected, and there is no danger of their vanishing altogether any time soon. But some residents are troubled.

“I think the palm tree kind of fits with the whole Southern California vibe,” says Jonathan Scott, who manages the Palm, a fashionable downtown restaurant.

Palm trees were brought here 100 years ago or more from Latin America and other exotic locales.

The problem, says Steve Dunlap, a tree surgeon with the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, is that large numbers of the Canary Island Date Palm are succumbing to a fungal disease.

Tree surgeons don’t know how to stop the fungus, and Mr. Dunlap said it doesn’t make sense to replace dying palms with new ones that probably will fall victim to the same ailment.

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