I hate being late. I’m generally one of the people who arrives early and therefore doesn’t need to worry too much about traffic disruption en route. This particular morning was perhaps a tad more important to me as it was the first meeting I, with the new committee, had organised as Chair of the recently revived East Anglia Branch of the Association. More importantly still, I had all the paraphernalia required for a successful day packed in my car. What I didn’t factor in was my car deciding not to start!
I made a very early morning WhatsApp to the troops, and thank you, Meg Leslie, for getting me to the venue. She informed me of her aspirations to be a rally driver as we made VERY good time getting to Saffron Walden!
Canker stain of plane
The topic of our event was issues affecting plane trees, and the Association’s new Senior Technical Officer, John Parker, started us off with a talk on canker stain of plane. This was very informative on the biology of the disease as well as the history of its spread. John shared interesting and pertinent information about the different ways it has been dealt with – from Spain, where prompt action eradicated it in 2010 with no reoccurrence, to Greece, where no action was taken and where it has now decimated the country’s trees. Although we do not have the disease in the UK yet, the ease with which it can be spread, particularly in sawdust on tools and clothes, means there should be no room for complacency. John made the sobering point that all these new tree-related problems entering the country are not invasive: they are imported, by us!
Greg Packman continued the theme, concentrating on Massaria disease. Sometimes thought to be a London issue, Massaria appears to be widespread, possibly throughout the country, but is often not identified. Greg’s informed view is that the disease may in fact be part of the ecology of plane trees and, unlike canker stain, is not a tree killer. Like with so many pathogens, trees in a stressed condition, particularly through drought, appear to be far more susceptible. Because Massaria often causes branch failure, much of Greg’s presentation was spent on identifying symptoms from the ground as the initial infection appears on the top of branches. This included a useful tip of looking beneath trees for shed twigs and branches with the tell-tale stepped fracture which is typical of Massaria infection.
The day concluded with a walk around Saffron Common looking at the symptoms of infected trees so we will be able to spot the early decline.
I hope all delegates found the day as useful as I did, and my thanks go to John and Greg for entertaining us. Also, thanks to the committee members, and others, who helped in the organisation, particularly Annie Hooper for finding the venue and trees.
Future branch events
We’ll be putting out details of future events soon, but if any members have suggestions of what they would like to see going on in the region, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was taken form Issue 187 Winter 2019 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.