Following the devastating news that the fungal pathogen Chalara fraxinea is rampant in the British countryside, our ash chapter requires now a major rewrite.
We had completed the section on ash (Fraxinus excelsior and other ash species) just one month ago, and had included a significant section on the potential dangers from this disease which was looming in continental Europe, little-knowing that within one month hundreds of British woodlands would be discovered to have trees infected with ash dieback.
Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) shoot with emerging leaves. Drawing by Sarah Simblet for The New Sylva.
We have now just a few months of writing and drawing remaining before the book is put together by publishers Bloomsbury. Let’s hope that the news does not get much worse for this beautiful and graceful tree species before we go to press in late 2013.
Read more about Chalara fraxinea
The authors recently travelled to East Sussex on the hunt to find some of England’s last remaining mature elm trees.
East Sussex is one of the last strongholds for the elm, where it is assisted in its battle to survive the continuing onslaught of Dutch Elm Disease by a special project run by East Sussex County Council; who employ a dedicated Dutch Elm Disease Officer. Guided by their officer Anthony Becvar, the authors saw several large English elm trees although sadly many showed signs of the disease or had been pruned by tree surgeons in an attempt to halt decline. Numerous other examples of elms including Huntingdon (a hybrid between small-leaved elm U. minor and wych elm U. glabra) and Wheatley (Ulmus minor subsp. sarniensis ) were also seen.
The tree subject chosen to be featured in a drawing by Sarah Simblet for The New Sylva were two Cornish Elms ((Ulmus minor subsp. angustifolia) that were off the beaten path. The two trees were both leaning, having had their roots disturbed, but were otherwise in very good health.
Cornish Elms and drawing in progress by Sarah Simblet for The New Sylva