Ash dieback spreads to new non-ash hosts

Three new tree and shrub species in the same family as ash (Oleaceae) tested positive for ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) infection at the Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire.

Westonbirt
Westonbirt

The infection was identified by staff at the arboretum on mock privet, narrow-leaved mock privet and white fringetree – ornamental trees and shrubs from the Mediterranean and North America. The species were found in close proximity to infected ash trees.

Forest Research is conducting further tests on the nature of the infection. This includes monitoring other species in the Oleaceae family for susceptibility to H. fraxineus infection. A number of these species have already been tested including Osmanthus and Lilac, but were found to be negative.

UK chief plant health officer Professor Nicola Spence, said: "Since 2012, the Government has invested more than £6 million into ash dieback research. These findings highlight the importance of the Forestry Commission’s reporting system, Tree Alert, and of arboreta and other plant collections, which play crucial roles in supporting the UK’s world-leading plant health sector.

"Landscapers, gardeners and tree practitioners should be vigilant for signs of ash dieback on these new host species, and report suspicious findings through Tree Alert."

To report a suspected case of ash dieback in any of these newly identified host species, visit https://www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert

Horticulture Week was the first to report on ash dieback reaching Britain, in 2012.


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