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Loose Park Dodges Rose Disease


A virus has been ravaging rosesaround the Kansas City area, according to a recent news report.  The disease, rose rosette, has been around for decades but has become more of a problem lately, agriculture officials in Johnson and Jackson recently told the Kansas City Star. 

And unfortunately, the paper notes, there’s no cure.

“Experts recommend digging up and destroying infected plants. Microscopic mites, traveling on wind currents, spread the disease-causing virus as they feed on roses.”

Overland Park is planning to remove several rose beds outside city buildings and along some streets.  But what about elsewhere? And more specifically, what about that Kansas City mainstay for weddings, celebrations (and the occasional drum circle)…the rose garden at Loose Park? 

“It looks great.  We just had our annual rose day on Sunday, and everything was in its second bloom already,” Forest Decker, manager of natural resources for the Kansas City Missouri Parks Department, tells KCUR.


Loose isn’t immune to the problem, but with a full-time landscape supervisor, the city has been able to keep the virus under control, losing one or two rose bushes a year.

“We treat our roses with a miticide,” says Decker. “And by keeping the mite population down and removing bushes right away, it doesn’t really affect Loose.” 

The city’s other parks haven’t been affected much either.  But Decker has something else on his mind:

Pine Wilt.

The disease has been killing Austrian and Scotch pine trees at a rapid pace.  A decade ago, Kansas City had 4,000 of these trees.  Today, the city has 2,000.

“We probably won’t have any left in six or seven years on park property,” says Decker.

The trees are ideal for developers because they grow quickly, but Decker says they’re not well-equipped for this region’s temperate climate zone. That’s largely what has made them so susceptible to pine wilt.

Not all pines rooted in the Midwest are destined for such a fatal path. Decker says White pines, which grow slower than Scotch and Austrian, are doing great.


Last month, KCUR reported on how Kansas City loses thousands of trees a year and how new efforts are aiming to replacing them. Learn more here.

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