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Entries in Dutch Elm Disease (1)


Ash Die Back disease - beware!

Déjà vu?

Currently in the news has been a threatening tree disease called ‘Ash Die Back’ (Chalara fraxinea) . Said disease apparently is set to be equally as damaging to our countryside as ‘Dutch Elm’ disease was.

In the 1960’s Dutch Elm disease, a fungal infection (Ophiostoma nova ulmi), destroyed all but a few of our native ‘English Elm’ (Almus procera). Ironically it was Dutch pathologists (hence the name sake) that identified and charted the complex transmission stages of this lethal disease. (Watson Crowood 2006).
How it arrived on our shores was via imported timber from North America.

Is this ringing any bells?

Surely you must ask yourself why was Elm imported into this country given that it 'was 'the noblest of our native trees and had been growing happily for thousands of years. Ash (Fraxinus Excelsior) has a similar lineage. Ash in all its guises grows happily in our climate. Indeed I myself have weeded many a seedling/sapling out of a neglected border. Ash grows rapidly in the most hostile of conditions. Fraxinus pendula et al grow similarly.

Therefore I conclude there is really no earthly reason to IMPORT these plants! Sadly the REAL cost of cheap imported goods are not calculated. The only cost considered is the cash cost! The cash cost is cheap alone.
However can the cash alone price be put on our wildlife and countryside?

What ultimate price are we paying ?

The loss of the humble Ash tree will have a devastating effect. Can we AFFORD to lose anymore parts of our environmentally complex jigsaw called the British Isles? Is it not time to include other factors in commerce other than just cash?
Top tips

  • This time of year Ash Dieback can be identified as ‘blackened un shed leaves on the tree (do not confuse these with the keys/seeds that are also black). If you suspect an infection contact your local forestry commission (Forest Research Tree Health Diagnostic & Advisory Service T: 01420 23000, E:
  • When buying plants for your garden always use a reputable garden centre. Check source of plant if not clearly labelled. Locally or U.K sourced plants are cheaper all things considered.