24 July 2013

‘Urgent’ elm disease alert in central Brighton

Brighton & Hove residents who have piles of wood that may contain elm logs or gardens with elm trees that do not appear to be in good health are being urged to contact the council’s parks department as soon as possible.

The move follows the discovery of four elms on Old Steine Gardens infected with Dutch Elm Disease that will have to be chopped down as part of the city’s control strategy to stop the spread of the disease.

Thanks to decades of vigilance and hard work Brighton & Hove holds the National Elm Collection – the only significant population of elms surviving in Britain today – and is internationally renowned for its elm disease management programme. Central Brighton has been virtually disease-free for the last two years.

The chair of the council’s environment committee, Councillor Pete West, said: “This localised infection is extremely worrying. It is more than likely down to imported fuel logs or an elm tree that is already infected by elm bark beetles which carry the fungus.”

“We implore local residents and businesses to contact our parks department immediately if they suspect they have elm timber as logs or a suspect elm tree on their property. This is urgent.”

Council tree experts will inspect suspect trees and remove them if necessary at no cost to the property owner. If any residents have elm logs they will be disposed of and replaced with an equivalent amount of logs of other trees, again at no cost to the owner.

Symptoms of the disease are clusters of wilting or yellowing leaves which then turn brown and fall. Affected shoots die back from the tip and the twigs sometimes turn down to form ‘shepherd’s crooks’. An affected tree may have a mixture of healthy foliage, yellow or brown foliage and defoliated shoots, showing infection in different branch systems.

For further information please:

  • Phone the council on (01273) 292929
  • Email arboriculture@brighton-hove.gov.uk
  • Visit www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/elmdisease

There is also useful information about Dutch Elm Disease at the Forestry Commission website www.forestry.gov.uk

The current epidemic of Dutch Elm disease is caused by the fungus Ophiostoma novo-ulmi. It is disseminated by various elm bark beetles within the genus Scolytus. The fungus blocks the water conduction system of trees resulting in wilting and death of the foliage.