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Palm trees
CARL LISCIANDRELLO / WUSF Public Media

Florida's iconic palm trees are under attack from a fatal disease that turns them to dried crisps in months, with no chance for recovery once they become ill.

Spread by a rice-sized, plant-hopping insect, lethal bronzing has gone from a small infestation on Florida's Gulf Coast to a nearly statewide problem in just over a decade. Tens of thousands of palm trees have died from the bacterial disease, and the pace of its spread is increasing, adding to environmental woes of a state already struggling to save its other arboreal icon, citrus trees, from two other diseases.

In the aftermath of any major storm, we can expect to see many toppled and uprooted trees in South Florida. But recently one massive tree in a public park in Miami-Dade was tagged with a heartfelt plea for passersby.

Stuck on the tree were two handwritten signs reading “I’m alive. So stand me up!”

“It's a good intention,” says Adrian Hunsberger, urban horticulture agent with the University of Florida/Miami-Dade County Extension Office. “But usually if it's blown over and it's laying on its side it's really beyond salvaging.”

Residents in Lee and Broward Counties took Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Supreme Court this week. They’re trying to overturn Scott’s vetoes of state money owed to them after agriculture officials destroyed their healthy citrus trees. The homeowners also took the state’s agriculture commissioner to lower courts.