A vicious fight that conkers can't win
Date posted: Saturday 3rd December 2016
Britain’s beloved horse chestnut tree is in danger of disappearing from our parks forever. It is being infected by the leaf miner moth ( Cameraria ohridella), it was first reported in Wimbledon in 2002 and since that time has wreaked havoc, spreading an estimate 60 miles per year. Trees appear unsightly with brown withered looking leaves and dried up seed cases.
Dr Glynn Percival of Harlett Tree Research comments “The horse chestnut will not be a major tree species in 15 years. I have to be pessimistic but, with time, they’re just going to become rarer and rarer”.
With rapid defoliation the leaf miner causes makes each infected tree appear unsightly it won’t necessarily kill it. However, it faces another threat as they become susceptible to bleeding canker, a bacterial pathogen which causes the bark to split and starves the tree of moisture thereby killing it.
It is recommended that the leaves of affected trees should be burnt to try and stem the production of further moths.
The Royal Parks have been looking to the future and increasingly find embargoes on the importation of a number of tree species , the latest being the sweet chestnut. Some difficult decisions will need to be made for future planting and at this time Chestnut Ave looks to be under threat.