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Further findings of Lawson cypress tree disease detected

Further findings of the disease in Lawson cypress caused by the pathogen Phytophthora lateralis have been confirmed at a number of sites across the north.
Thursday, 20 October 2011

This follows the news in August of confirmation of the disease in areas of Tollymore Forest Park.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said: “Following aerial surveillance carried out during the summer and autumn a number of other sites with Lawson cypress were identified showing suspect symptoms. These were followed up with ground inspections and sampling in conjunction with staff from the Agri-food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI). Following laboratory analysis the disease has now been confirmed to be present at four further forest sites. These include Mourne Forest in Co. Down and Somerset Forest near Coleraine. A very small number of affected trees have been also been identified in Castlewellan and Belvoir Forests.”

In addition to public forests a small number of private sites with infected trees have also been confirmed in the Co. Down area.

The spokesperson added: “While we are concerned about news of these additional confirmed outbreaks, appropriate bio-security measures are being put in place to prevent further spread of the disease both within and from the sites. These include requirements to prevent the movement of infected soil and plant material from the sites. At the public forests, signage will be put in place to advise the public of the actions they can take to prevent further spread of the disease. In addition we are stepping up plant health inspections of Lawson cypress and other potential host plants at production nurseries and retailers.”

The confirmation of these new sites here comes as the first confirmed outbreak of the disease at a site in the South West of England is reported. Previously findings of the disease in Britain had been limited to four sites in Scotland.

Anyone concerned about Lawson cypress trees that they may have are asked to access NI Direct website where information on the identification of Lawson cypress and P.lateralis symptoms is available.

Notes to editors:

  1. Phytophthora lateralis is a pathogen that kills the roots of host trees. Although it can potentially affect a number of tree species including other Chamaecyparis species and Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia), it is a specific threat to Lawson cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana), which normally die following infection.
  2. Lawson cypress, while not of significance here in commercial timber production, is a popular tree used in ornamental situations.
  3. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email pressoffice.group@dardni.gov.uk. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.