TWO CASES of a new pathogen that could seriously affect trees have been found in native English Oak trees in a wood near Redruth in Cornwall.

The fungal disease Phytophthora kernovii – which is a more virulent form of Sudden Oak Death or Phytophthora ramorum – has been found for the first time in native oak trees in Britain.

The new pathogen was first discovered in the wood in Cornwall earlier this year when it was found on rhododendron plants and a beech tree.

But the latest discovery raises fears over the pathogen‘s potential impact on Britain‘s 200 million oak trees, as well as other native tree species.

The Forestry Commission‘s head of plant health Roddie Burgess said the hope had been that P ramorum, and it‘s more virulent pathogen, would not spread to native species.

“This new evidence indicates that this is not the case.

“We need to ensure that the precautions we take to identify and control the spread of this disease are commensurate with this significantly more serious threat.

“The infected trees are already within an area quarantined because of the presence of P ramorum. Any infected plants are being destroyed, as are any potential hosts in the immediate area.”

If anyone suspects the presence of the disease on plants they should contact their local DEFRA or SEERAD office.

If the disease is suspected on trees the contact should be the Forestry Commission.

Further information on the two phytophthora is available on the Forestry Commission and DEFRA websites – www.forestry.gov.uk and www.defra.gov.uk/planth/pramorum.htm.