Ceratocystis platani (plane wilt) is a fungal disease affecting plane trees in some parts of the European mainland including France, Italy and Greece. It only affects plane trees, compromising the vascular system and ultimately leading to the death of the infected tree. It spreads via spores, typically transported from one tree to another by infected equipment such as chainsaws. The disease is not known to be present in the UK. In order to minimise the risk of it entering the country the UK has been designated Protected Zone Status (PZS) by the EU, placing restrictions on imports of plane saplings.
To maintain PZS the UK must demonstrate that we are actively looking for plane wilt and that we have not yet found it. The LTOA have been leading on this project, working for the Forestry Commission to undertake PZS surveys and producing reports in 2014 and 2015. We are currently in the process of undertaking the 2016 survey, due for completion at the end of September. The LTOA are considered to be one of the organisations with the most expertise about the disease, and have presented our results at plant health and urban forestry conferences as well as travelling to Italy to see the pathogen in the field and learn how it is managed.
Reporting mechanisms exist for those who believe that they may have spotted this disease – below is a link to an identification sheet which might assist with this process, however it is important to note that further investigation by a professional will be required in order to confirm the diagnosis. Perhaps the most obvious symptom is significant sections of canopy in the tree where the leaves have become completely desiccated but have been retained on the tree (see photos). It should be further noted that this disease affects only plane trees and will not be found on any species which is not plane.
- For additional information about plane wilt and other pests and diseases of concern please consult the Observatree website at http://www.observatree.org.uk/
- To formally report a suspected sighting of plane wilt then please use the FC TreeAlert service at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert
A full summary of the LTOA’s work with regard to plane wilt PZS surveys will be presented at the forthcoming National Tree Officer Conference in Telford on November 9th and will form the basis of a publication later in 2016.