Ash dieback is in decline but vigilance still required
My dog and I enjoy our daily walks. It gives me the opportunity to stretch my legs and see what is happening in the woods and fields near my home. My dog - well, she has other interests.
It also gives me the opportunity to keep an eye on that most Irish tree of all - ash. Ash leaves have been emerging over the last couple of weeks gradually greening the countryside. When you're out for a walk, watch out for wilting ash leaves. It may be the first sign that ash dieback has arrived.
Ash dieback is a serious disease of ash trees caused by the fungal pathogen Chalara fraxinea (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus). It has spread rapidly across much of Europe.
The disease can affect ash trees of any age and in any setting. The disease can be fatal, particularly among younger trees.
Only ash species are affected, trees such as sycamore, oak, beech or mountain ash (rowan) are not susceptible.
Over the coming months, watch out for wilting ash leaves. It looks very similar to frost damage but in the case of ash dieback no frost may have occurred the night before and only one branch may be affected while the other branches on the same tree appear to be green and healthy. The diseased branch will gradually die back changing colour and when the disease arrives in the main stem diamond-shaped stem lesions will form above and below the affected branch.
In Britain, officials are focusing on 'containment' by trying to control the disease from spreading further.
Here in Ireland we are still in 'eradication' mode hoping to stop this serious disease getting established in Ireland.