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Ash dieback

Ash dieback

by Lewis ~ 7 August, 2020 ~ comments welcome

The woodlands blog has reported on the pathogen that causes ash dieback.   Jasper has described the nature of the fungus, and Richard has commented on how the problem has developed.  

The disease has been variously referred to as 

  • chalara,  
  • ash dieback, and 
  • chalara dieback of ash. 

The fungus has an asexual phase, which was formerly known as Chalara fraxinea, hence the name of the disease; the sexual phase of the fungus was then associated with the asexual Chalara - this was called Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus. Putting the two together, the fungus was named Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (H.fraxineus).  The fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus is of Asian origin. Read more...

The Giant Hogweed - a losing battle?

The Giant Hogweed – a losing battle?

by woodlands blogs ~ 8 June, 2020 ~ comments welcome

It seems that the UK is losing the battle to eradicate the giant hogweed.  It is an invasive species which has been described as the country’s most dangerous plant. Many efforts have been made to eradicate this plant.  Local authorities can make use the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to enforce control of the weed.  Sadly though Plant Tracker has recorded hundreds of sightings across the four nations of the U.K.

Its scientific name is Heracleum mantegazzianum and it belongs to the same family as the wild parsnip, the Apiaceae. It is sometimes referred to as the giant cow parsnip, the giant cow parsley or the cartwheel flower. Read more...

spittlebug

Spittlebug Survey 2020

by woodlands blogs ~ 30 April, 2020 ~ 3 comments

Last year, the blog reported on the disease that has been destroying the olive groves of Italy, and that is spreading in Europe.  The research group (BRIGIT) centred at the John Innes Centre is appealing for help again this year to determine the distribution of froghoppers that could spread this disease IF it arrives in the UK.


Spittlebug Survey 2020

Did you know that the ‘cuckoo-spit’ that you see in spring is produced by the immature stage (nymph) of a spittlebug or froghopper? It is thought that the spittle is produced to protect the nymphs from drying out and from their predators. Read more...

The lasting effect of Rhododendron ponticum in woodlands.

The lasting effect of Rhododendron ponticum in woodlands.

by Chris ~ 20 March, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Atlantic oak woodland is often referred to as the Celtic Rainforest.  It is characterised by lichen covered trees, together with a rich moss and liverwort flora.  The environment is damp and humid, with streams and waterfalls contributing to this. These woodlands have evolved under the influence of the Gulf Stream,  which helps keeps the area warm (and wet).

The difficult access and rugged terrain (in some areas) has helped to preserve these woodlands, plus they have not proved suitable for agriculture or ‘industrial forestry’.  Consequently, in many areas,  they have remained in their 'ancient state', going back to the last ice age.  Their sessile oaks are very important for wildlife but as they are not always productive of good timber, they have often been left to grow to maturity.  By the same token, Birch trees have relatively low timber value - which has been their salvation.  Woodlands like this were more extensive in the past covering the Atlantic fringe of Western Europe from North West Scotland down to the South of Portugal.  This type of woodland is rich in terms of biodiversity (primroses, violets, wild garlic, ferns and grasses) and some species are only to be found here and nowhere else in the world. Read more...

HC-leaf

Europe’s threatened trees

by Lewis ~ 20 November, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Recently, the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) carried out a survey of the state of trees through Europe, specifically related to their risk of extinction.  There are some four hundred native tree species spread across Europe.  

Trees are not just essential for life on Earth (generating oxygen through photosynthesis) but they also provide food and habitats for hundreds of species - birds, mammals, insects, spiders etc. The loss of tree species has considerable ‘knock on’ effects in terms of the biodiversity of an area. Trees also provide us with timber and other materials (cork, cellulose, oils). Read more...

Medicine for bumblebees

Medicine for bumblebees

by Chris ~ 26 October, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Some 90% of the world's plants, including many food crops, rely on animals for pollination (as opposed to wind or even rarer water pollination). The contribution of honey bees and bumblebees to these pollination services is vital but they are at risk due to:

  • the effects of disease, 
  • climate change 
  • effects of pesticides and 
  • habitat loss / destruction.

Whilst it is sometimes possible to help hives / colonies of the ‘domesticated’ honeybee suffering from parasites / disease, ‘helping’ wild populations is a much more difficult proposition. Read more...

Armillaria - honey fungus

Armillaria – honey fungus

by Chris ~ 21 October, 2019 ~ comments welcome

The honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) is a plant pathogen, found across the world. It colonises and kills a variety of trees and woody plants, producing yellow-brown mushrooms that appear above ground.  These are the fruiting bodies of a much larger organism, that can spread over large distances underground. 

The honey fungus can grow and spread by means of rhizomorphs.  These act as a system of underground structures that invade and decompose wood and roots.  They allow the fungus to infect, spread and survive for long periods of time.  Once the honey fungus is present in a garden, it can be managed but rarely eradicated. Read more...

Protecting our trees and woodlands.

Protecting our trees and woodlands.

by Chris ~ 27 September, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Globalisation is the process by which economies and cultures are drawn together; they become more inter-connected through the flow of trade, capital, people and technology.  This has occurred in part due to the rapid growth of air travel, container shipping etc. so that there are now massive movements of people and goods (both raw and manufactured).   One positive aspect of globalisation is that we have access to foods and materials from all over the world.  A downside is that disease, parasites and pests can ‘hitch a ride’ with people or materials and goods as they move across the world.   Plants and animals can also change their geographical range / distribution as a result of climate change.  The woodlands blog has outlined some of the problems associated with various ‘alien or invasivespecies, for example,

Asian hornets, Read more...

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