For La Cañada homeowners used to enjoying backyard-grown oranges and lemons, news of a citrus disease’s recent appearance in Hacienda Heights is raising an alarm.
The disease, called huanglongbing, or citrus greening, is an incurable bacterial infection that attacks the vascular system of citrus plants, slowly killing them.
One infected tree in Hacienda Heights so far is the only documented case of HLB in California. But because its insect carrier, the Asian citrus psyllid, has been in the state since 2008 and Los Angeles since 2009, California Department of Food and Agriculture authorities are being vigilant about its spread.
“Anyone with a citrus tree in Southern California should be concerned,” said agency spokesman Steve Lyle. “It’s a disease that history has shown will spread.”
The Food and Agriculture Dept. has instituted a two-year quarantine for citrus trees in a 93-square-mile zone centered around Hacienda Heights. Sales of citrus trees are banned in the area, and only commercially cleaned and packed fruit is allowed out — residential citrus must be consumed where it is grown.