Phytophthora ramorum hits larch, beech, birch and oak trees in South West

The Forestry Commission is investigating a new outbreak of Phytophthora ramorum on Japanese larch, Western hemlock, beech, birch and oaks in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.

This is the first time that conifer species have been found with stem lesions caused by Phytophthora ramorum. Many of the infected trees are not growing in close proximity to Rhododendron.

Scientists from the Forestry Commission's Forest Research agency have isolated Phytophthora ramorum on these sites and are investigating further. As a priority they are now carrying out more extensive tests and research to determine whether Phytophthora ramorum is the main cause of the outbreak. Apart from a number of Japanese larch and Western hemlock trees, some broad-leaf species (beech, birch and some oaks) growing in the same area are also infected.

Forestry Commission Plant Health Service head Roddie Burgess said: "This new find could represent a significant step change in the susceptibility of our trees to this disease, so we are very concerned about this development. With our partners in the Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA), as well as scientists in our Forest Research agency, we are working extremely hard to learn as much as we can, as quickly as we can, about what's happening. We can then consider what we need to do to manage the situation, building on the current programme of work to manage risks from this pathogen."

Burgess added: "It is important to stress at this time that much more research is needed to give us a full picture and allow us to assess what the potential implications are. Once we have done that we will share our findings with local woodland owners and managers."

Defra announced it would provide £25m to fund a five-year programme, which began on 1 April this year, for research, development and further disease control measures.

A Forestry Commission representative said: "We have so far identified four main areas: in east Cornwall, around Plymouth, in north-west Devon, and west Somerset, with further sites under investigation in mid-Devon. Infection by Phytophthora ramorum on Japanese larch has been found in a mix of privately owned and publicly managed forests. Infected sites managed by the Forestry Commission include Largin Wood in Cornwall, Plym Woods, east of Plymouth, and Canonteign Woods, near Exeter."

Local forest and woodland managers who wish to be kept informed should contact the Forestry Commission's south-west England regional office at Mamhead Castle, Mamhead, Nr Exeter, Devon EX6 8HD. Telephone 01626 890666, fax 01626 891118 or email


Subscribe to Horticulture Week for more news, more in-depth features and more technical and market info.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Horticulture education update - staying on course

Horticulture education update - staying on course

Raised levels of investment in horticulture education and increased student take-up is welcome news for the industry, says Rachel Anderson.

Tree planting guide - three basic rules

Tree planting guide - three basic rules

Choosing the right plant, correct planting procedure and best aftercare are the three basic rules for sucessful tree planting, Sally Drury explains.

Tree planting - what are the benefits of planting trees?

Tree planting - what are the benefits of planting trees?

Mitigating climate change, providing windbreaks and reducing the risk of soil erosion are some of the best reasons for planting trees, says Sally Drury.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Arboriculture Contracts & Tenders

Jeremy Barrell On...

Jeremy Barrell

Tree consultant Jeremy Barrell reflects on the big issues in arboriculture.

Products & Kit Resources