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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.

University of Illinois Plant Clinic


University of Illinois Plant Clinic

Given the current weather patterns affecting Illinois and the Midwest, it seemed timely to include a reminder about the services offered through the University of Illinois Plant Clinic. Excessive rain and unseasonably cool temperatures will undoubtedly create an increase in disease and nutrient issues for growers to mitigate. Half of the battle is knowing for sure what problem you need to overcome, and the University of Illinois Plant Clinic is available to assist growers with identification. Once an identification has been made, growers can begin to correct the problem. The information included below provides a brief background on the Plant Clinic, as well as information on where and how to submit a sample, sample analysis fees, and a link to submission forms. The University of Illinois Plant Clinic provides an invaluable service to growers and Extension Educators by taking the guess work out of identification, thereby saving time and money.

The University of Illinois Plant Clinic has served as a clearinghouse for plant problems since 1976. Services include plant and insect identification, diagnosis of disease, insect, weed and chemical injury (chemical injury on field crops only), nematode assays, and help with nutrient related problems, as well as recommendations involving these diagnoses. Microscopic examinations, laboratory culturing, virus assays, and nematode assays are some of the techniques used in the clinic.

This multidisciplinary venture is managed through the Crop Sciences Department but relies on input from many departments, including both research and extension components. Most of the diagnostic work is done at the Plant Clinic, but specialists are consulted as needed in the areas of botany, entomology, horticulture, mycology, plant pathology, soils, soil fertility, and weed science, among others.

The Plant Clinic was originally organized to help the county cooperative extension advisors (now referred to as educators) with the wide variety of plant samples that they were asked to diagnose, and to help campus based specialists deal with the constant requests for diagnostic services. The clearinghouse concept has helped in attaining these goals and at the same time has served as a source of information on plant problems in Illinois.

Our Services

  • Plant and insect identification,
  • Diagnosis of plant disease, insect, weed and chemical injury (chemical injury on field crops only)
  • Nematode assays
  • Help with nutrient related problems, as well as recommendations involving these diagnoses.

Fee Schedule

General Diagnosis (including cultures)

$15.00

ELISA, or serology tests*

$25.00

Specialty Nematodes (SCN, PWN)**

$20.00

Specialty SCN typing or Hg typing

Call ahead

All other Nematodes (usually corn)

$40.00

Waterhemp herbicide resistance testing***

$50.00

*ELISA or serology are techniques used to test for various fungal, bacterial and viral pathogens.
**SCN indicates the egg analysis test for soybean cyst nematode. PWN indicates pinewood nematode analysis.
***Waterhemp resistance DNA testing for glyphosate and PPO inhibitor herbicides only.

Suggestions for Specimen Collection and Submission

  • Collect fresh specimens. Send a generous amount of material, if available.
  • Ship in a crush-proof container immediately after collecting. If holdover periods are encountered, keep specimen cool. Mail packages to arrive on weekdays.
  • Avoid weekend layovers.
  • Include completed Plant Clinic Specimen data form and fee with each sample submitted.
  • Note: Diagnoses and recommended controls by the University of Illinois Plant Clinic are based solely on the material and information submitted. The less representative the sample, and the less complete the information provided, the greater the chance for misdiagnosis.

Submitting Plant Specimens for Disease / Injury Diagnosis

  • Leaf
    - Collect early and late stages of infection. Press leaves between heavy paper or cardboard.
  • Fleshy Plant Parts
    - Samples with a rot disease should not be sent in an advanced stage of decay. Collect fresh specimens with early symptom development. Wrap in newspaper.
  • Canker
    - Select recently produced cankers. Submit the whole cankered portion where possible; preferably with healthy wood above and below the canker.
  • Wilt or General Decline
    - Send the entire plant, with roots, if feasible: submit several plants, from healthy to severely infected. Dig, do not pull plants from the soil so diseased roots will remain intact. If the whole plant cannot be sent, select samples from areas of active symptom development. Include the intact root system if root rot is suspected. Include photos.
  • Turf
    - Submit several 4-inch plugs of grass cut as deeply as roots will hold soil. Plugs should show gradation from healthy to severely diseased. Do not wrap leaves or fleshy material in plastic - use newspaper.

Submitting Nematode Specimens

  • Diseases caused by nematodes require special attention. See Report on Plant Disease No. 1100 for detailed instructions on the handling and shipping of nematode infested material.
  • Complete and include the Nematode Soil Sample Form with the sample.

Submitting Insect Specimens

  • Care should be taken to package insects so they arrive unbroken. Be sure to separate and label the insects if two or more are included in the same package and provide appropriate information on each.
  • Adult specimens such as flies, grasshoppers, cockroaches, wasps, butterflies and beetles can be submitted in a dry, crush-proof container. Do not tape insects to paper or place them loose in envelopes.
  • Larvae or soft-bodied specimens such as aphids, caterpillars and grubs should be submitted in a small leak-proof bottle or vial of 70 percent alcohol. Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol is suitable and readily available.

Complete and include form with the sample: sample submission form

Payment and sample submission form should accompany the sample for diagnosis to be initiated.
Checks should be made payable to the University of Illinois or to the Plant Clinic. For additional information on how to collect or submit a sample, or if uncertain of which test is needed, contact the Plant Clinic at (217) 333-0519 or plantclinic@illinois.edu
Samples should be sent to the following address:
University of Illinois Plant Clinic.
S-417 Turner Hall, 1102 S.Goodwin Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801



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