Mystery disease strikes 40,000 trees

horse chestnut trees are in dangerBRITAIN’S horse chestnut trees are falling victim to an aggressive disease that has spread throughout the country, striking more than 40,000 last year.

Ancient avenues of trees have been devastated. In parks and historic gardens, groundsmen have seen dark sores where trees have shed their bark and bled a glutinous resin. The tissue beneath dies, and if the sores form a ring around the trunk the tree withers.

Tree pathologists had assumed it to be the work of a species of Phytophthora fungus related to a disease commonly called sudden oak death. “Now we realise it’s something different,” said Professor Clive Brasier, of Forest Research, part of the Forestry Commission. “We don’t know what it is. It’s more aggressive and it’s being found all over the country.”