Chestnut blight in Britain

posted on March 22, 2012

Chestnut blight, caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica (C. parasitica), has been confirmed in Britain for the first time by scientists from Forest Research. The blight was found on young trees in two small orchards of European sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) in Warwickshire and East Sussex.

The fungus infection is usually fatal to European sweet chestnut and its North American relative, Castanea dentata, although it appears to be less virulent in Europe than it is in America. It is believed to have first originated in Eastern Asia before being introduced to North America in the late 19th Century, where it has since devastated billions of trees in the East of the country (see The American Chestnut Foundation). It was first identified in Europe in 1938, in Italy, and has since spread to most parts of southern Europe where sweet chestnut is grown, and to parts of northern Europe.

Identifying chestnut blight

The most obvious symptoms of chestnut blight are wilting and die-back of tree shoots. Young trees with this infection normally die back to the root collar, and might re-sprout before becoming re-infected. Other symptoms, such as stem cankers and the presence of fruiting bodies can also occur.

Read more about the fungus and find out how to report a possible occurence of chestnut blight on the Forestry Commission’s webpage for Chestnut Blight

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