Wildlife experts say
to let the infected trees stay because an infected tree can live for
many years before it dies and when it dies, the dead wood will provide
homes and food to many wildlife creatures. There are some bird species
that only nest in dead wood and their numbers are declining because we
cut down dead trees and put them through a woodchipper rather than
leave them standing. In retrospect, we should have left the trunk
standing. However, it probably would not have provided nesting space
for any birds because it was seriously damaged by fungus which began
eating its roots as soon as the rest of the tree was gone.
They say that the dying of the ash trees
was caused by spores landing on the leaves. That is highly unlikely as
it takes a long time for a fungus to parasitize a tree to death. I am
inclined to believe that they think in those terms because spores
in the are landing on leaves is roughly equivalent to the
equally-erroneous conception of
germ-based theory of disease. Germs or spores are all around us.
only when the terrain or environment, be it our bodies or a tree, is
weakened that the
germs or spores are able to take advantage of it and invade the body.
the spores being produced in the Autumn of 2012 when the English ash
trees began dying of ashdieback disease are not the cause of the
disease. It is far more likely that the trees were infected with the
fungus growing in English soil underneath them which made its way up
through the roots. This fungus could have lived and died with the tree
when the tree died of old age if the tree had remained healthy.
the cause of the ashes dying as "ashdieback" disease is a common
way of naming diseases to make them sound like they
are diseases and not just symptoms. Ashdieback just means the ashes are
dying. In fact, ashdieback is not so much a disease as a parasite that
took advantage of the ashes' disease or weakness caused by so much cold
The disease -- dis ease -- is the weakness and susceptibility caused by
being cold and wet for such a long time. It doesn't matter which
fungus eats it, it will still get eaten. Usually it will be
by the fungus that likes it best and is best adapted to that particular
species but if, for some reason, a tree was growing in a area of soil
populated by another type of fungus, that fungus would be the one to
take advantage of the opportuntiy for a good meal, nice home and chance
to raise its young.
In fact, one of the things that they don't
often mention, is that, while fraxinus pseudo albicans is found in
dead ash trees, the fruiting bodies that come out of it after it is cut
down are often from other fungi. One fungus may dominate, but fungi are
all around us and all of them will take advantage of a weak host.
what to do if you have an infected tree? Of course, experimental
"scientists" of the kill-and-burn persuasion say all infected trees
must be cut down to stop the epidemic. The main problem with that is
that the "epidemic" is caused by a fungus growing in the ground. After
the chopping, the fungus will still be there. It may even be an edible
Fungus and trees, like all predators and prey, have
established a rhythm where sometimes the prey is stronger and grows in
abundance, and sometimes the predators are better able to overpower the
prey. In this example, the ash trees are the prey and the fungus
growing in the ground. It can be any fungus that can eat the tree.
The particular species identification is irrelevant.So, what can you do if one of your trees is
infected by a fungus?
There's probably not much you can
do to a keep a tree in the open air warm and dry, but another thing
that funguses don't like is alkaline soil or minerals. Adding minerals
to the soil around the tree will help it grow strong, just like adding
minerals to the diet will help keep us strong. Minerals will also
interfere with the ability of molds to join in and help the fungus grow.
can add minerals to the soil by putting in any appropriate, full-array
mineral fertilizer such as rock dust or dolomite powder (which is a
form of rock dust.) If you burn garden waste, or have a barbecue during
the summer, you can spread the ashes around the trunk of the tree. You
can also use fallen leaves to spread around the tree. Leaves contain
the minerals that the tree or plant brought up through the roots during
the growing season to feed its seeds. Perhaps this alkaline mulch will
even add a little warmth to the tree during the cold winds of winter
that will be a help to it in fighting off the fungus.Are these spores a threat to humans or
Yes. A fungus spore can lodge in the sinuses
and, if not turfed out by the mucous membranes or immune system, can
grow there. People with "post-nasal drip" or blocked sinuses may have
started with breathing in a spore from a fungus. See Spores
for more information.
infection that killed this mountain ash (rowan tree) has been
positively identified as honey fungus ( armillaria mellea). Honey
fungus is a tree eater and can kill many different kinds of trees. Ash,
however, is not one of them. Ash is resistant to honey fungus. Many
trees are resistant to many fungal infections and susceptible to some.
The particular pathogen is irrelevant. If the tree is old or weak,
and/or if there have been conditions favorable to fungus growth, some
trees will succumb. That is the way nature works.
You can go
through biosecurity measures like disinfecting your shoes when you
walk in the wood, but it is rather pointless. Spores can travel in the
air much further than they can travel on your shoes, and the main
offensive line against the spores being able to germinate in another
wood will be the plants and animals already living there, who will
compete with them for space and/or eat them.
At least the
honey fungus that ate my tree is edible, and I can count on a good
supply of mushroom soup every autumn for several years to come as the
underground fungus continues to eat through the roots. I have been
unable to find out if the trumpet-shaped mushrooms that will grow from
the ashdieback fungus are edible or not.
Another silver lining
to the fungal overgrowth caused by the Big Wet is that this has a
bumper year for truffles in England. Many truffle-hunters are making a
lot of money with this year's abundant crop.