Tree works along the banks of the New Cut

Like all other living organisms, trees are subject to disease and decay. The considerable task of monitoring the condition of trees in the public realm is undertaken by the city council’s dedicated team of Tree Officers. We were contacted earlier this month by Tom Gladden, the Central Area Tree Officer, who had been monitoring a large sycamore tree after it failed to break into leaf in the spring. Tom reported as follows:

“I have been monitoring the tree for the last couple of months to give it every chance to come to life, but unfortunately I think it is time to give up hope.

I have been unable to fully inspect the tree due to the dense ivy and bramble around the base and up the stem, however my best guess as to the culprit in this tree’s demise is a fungal disorder called Cryptostroma corticale (sooty bark disease), which causes dysfunction in the tree’s vascular system and can cause sudden death. The decline and death of sycamore affected by this fungus is sped up by episodes of drought, which I think has played a part in this case given the dry summer we had last year and the dry spring this year.”

This prognosis and rapid decline sadly means that the sycamore must be felled, before it becomes too weak to support itself. The city council will reduce it to a safe height and some of the timber will be left on the bank to provide nutrient-rich deadwood habitat for other flora and fauna to enjoy.

Tom also let us know that two ash trees on York Road have succumbed to ash dieback disease. Unlike the rapid demise of the sycamore, the ash trees will be subject to a slower decline. For the moment, the city council will remove any limbs overhanging the highway to prevent dead wood from falling onto pedestrians and vehicles.

We are grateful to the city council for the diligent work that they do, for informing us of these works in advance and explaining the reasons why they are necessary.

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