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Tree disease strikes Sussex
8:20am Saturday 8th September 2012 in News
A tree disease has struck in Sussex for the first time.
Ramorum disease, caused by a kind of fungus, has been confirmed in Japanese Larch trees in two woodlands – one near Horsham and the other in Surrey.
The infection causes shoot tips to wilt and needles to turn ginger and black and fall prematurely.
Cankers that bleed a white resin can appear on the branches and upper trunk.
Symptoms on the needles are not readily detectable during the winter when larch trees, unlike most other conifers, have shed their needles.
However, cankers can be visible all year round, although the resin bleeding becomes less visible once it dries and hardens.
Alison Field, south east England director for the Forestry Commission, said: “The disease thrives in the kind of wet weather we have had this year.
“It is also significant that both of the affected woodlands are close to areas where rhododendron shrubs have been infected by the disease.”
The disease, which poses no danger to humans and animals, has been responsible for the premature felling of more than three million larch trees in Britain since 2009.
The disease appears to be able to kill trees within one growing season after its presence is first detected.
The disease is spread aerially. Japanese Larch trees produce huge quantities of the infective spores which spread the disease.
Ms Field added: “Sadly, the only treatment to prevent this disease from killing millions more larch trees is to fell the infected trees as quickly as possible.”
“I would urge all woodland owners in the South East to inspect their trees regularly for signs of ill health, and to report anything suspicious.
“Those who have rhododendron plants in their woods or gardens should keep a close eye on them too, because infected rhododendron can also produce millions of the spores which spread the disease.”
Suspected cases can be reported to plant_health email@example.com or call 0117 3721070.
For more information go to www.forestry.gov.uk/pramorum