Fungal attack threatens historic ash tree

Inonotus hispidus - image:David Evans
Inonotus hispidus - image:David Evans
A historic ash tree in East Sussex is under threat from an aggressive fungal infection.

The so-called Wesley Tree was grown from a cutting from the tree in Winchelsea under which Methodism founder John Wesley preached his last sermon in 1790 - the original having succumbed to damage by souvenir hunters in 1927.

East Sussex County Council experts have ruled out ash dieback, instead identifying as the culprit the native hairy bracket fungus (Inonotus hispidus), which causes the lethal tree disease white rot. The council's contractors have already removed dead and diseased limbs.

Anticipating the eventual loss of the tree, the conservation group Winchelsea Heritage has arranged for cuttings and seeds to be taken from it, and has asked the town's residents to grow these on in readiness.

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