Facts About Ash Dieback
Ash dieback is a serious threat to ash trees of all ages and it will kill up to 95% of the ash trees it infects across the UK. In addition to costing the local society upwards of L15-billion, the effects of the disease will also impact the landscape forever.
Ash Dieback – What Is It?
Originating in Asia, this condition is a fungus that does not result in much damage to its native hosts’ Manchurian ash (Fraxinus mandshurica) or Chinese ash (Fraxinus chinensis). However, Ashe dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) has destroyed the European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) following its introduction to Europe three decades ago. That was a result of native ash species not evolving with the fungus to create a natural defense against it.
How Ash Dieback Affects A Tree
Leaf litter covering the ground, and in particular, ash leaf stalks, is where the fungus winters. Between July and October, the fungus will produce small white fruiting bodies. These bodies release spores into the immediate area. With wind action, the spores can be sent as far as tens of miles away from where they were released. They stick to leaves and eventually penetrate the leaf and other parts of the tree they have attached to. The fungus will grow inside of the host tree and over time, will cut off the water transport systems causing the tree to die. Trees will fight back but repeated annual infections will weaken and destroy the tree.
Ash Dieback – What Does It Look Like?
Although this fungus can affect trees regardless of age, younger trees will die faster. The symptoms that commonly appear include the following:
1 – Leaves
During the summer months, leaves will develop dark patches. After that, the leaves will wilt and completely turn to black. In some cases, the leaves may fall from the tree a little earlier than normal.
2 – Branches
Lesions develop in locations where the branches of the tree join the trunk. The lesions are dark brown and shaped similar to diamonds.
3 – Trunk
The inner bark of the trunk will have a brownish-grey colour underneath the lesions. There will also be new growth coming from buds that were previously dormant further down the trunk. This is a common sight when trees are stressed. It is known as epicormic growth.
Ash Dieback – Where Is It Now?
Although it was not formally described until 2006, the ash dieback fungus has been known to exist for at least 30 years in the UK. It has had the most impact to date in the south-east portion of England where the first recorded sighting of it was made in 2012. As for how long the fungus had been in the area before symptoms were identified, it is not known. There has been evidence of ash dieback in several other parts of the UK but experts believe that the epidemic to plant life is only just beginning.
How Did Ash Dieback Get To The UK?
As stated above, the spores produced by the fungus can become airborne and travel a fair distance. Although Ash dieback possibly arrived in the UK naturally, it may have also been accidentally transported on ash saplings. Before a ban being imposed in 2012, thousands of plants were being imported to the UK from infected parts of Europe. This would have contributed to a speeding up of the spread of Ash dieback.
Will Natural Disease Tolerance Be Increased?
It is too early to tell for sure, but there are indications that some trees are tolerant of Ash dieback. This could point to a recovery of ash trees over time. However, that could take upwards of 50 years to take hold. As for disease tolerance specifics, the variables are many and include such factors as the volume of spores in the air, the health of the tree, and the genetic traits of the tree.
What Are We Doing About Ash Dieback At Bark & Branch?
Although there is still a lot to learn about this fungal disease, we are monitoring the situation. We make several observations of the health and condition of ash trees – and all other trees and plants – when we are on a service call. We give your property a close look and record anything unusual that may require attention and discuss our findings with you.
Managing And Controlling The Spread
One of the many services we provide at Bark and Branch is disease and pest control. With Ash dieback becoming such a serious concern, we all have to work together to keep this devastating fungus under control. Here are a few things you can do to stop the spread in your neighbourhood:
1 – Clean your shoes before you visit the woods. Once you return home, clean your shoes once again. This will ensure that if you stepped on some spores, they don’t get transported into your yard from the bottoms of your footwear.
2 – Do not take cuttings or plant material from the outdoors and beyond to your property. It may be tempting to take something from the woods and attempt to grow it at home. However, if that cutting or plant has been infected, or is carrying some form of Ash dieback, you will have introduced it to your home and yard.
3 – Wash your vehicle and bike wheels to remove mud, dirt, and plant material. Again, this stops the spread of anything should your wheels or tires come in contact with the material that contains Ash dieback spores.
Ash dieback is only becoming to be a noticeable problem for ash trees in the UK although there has been evidence of it in the nation for several years. We can stop the damage and slow down the spread by taking a few precautions. The simple steps to doing that have been outlined above. For more information on Ash dieback, or details on what to do should you identify it on a tree, contact us today at Bark and Branch by calling 07958 495031