Summer time is when to spot diseases such as ash dieback

As we move towards high summer this year and ash trees come into full leaf, we will gain a much better picture of the impact ash dieback disease has had so far across the UK. Sadly we are not just concerned about the impact of ash dieback; you may have heard us in the media in recent weeks saying a lot about it, but a plethora of other potential diseases and pests that could affect trees and our very special heritage of ancient trees in particular.

There are at least 15 known diseases and pests that pose an immediate threat. These include Acute oak decline and the oak processionary moth, Phytopthora Kernoviae which affects oak and beech, and Dothistroma needle blight which affects Scots pine.

One of our lead verifiers for the Ancient Tree Hunt, Steve Waters, helped us with some BBC filming at the Trust’s Hucking Wood in Kent.Image: thetreehunter

Rob McBride, another of the Woodland Trust’s most active volunteers, has sent us some images taken during his family visit to Poland and added to his blog site. These images of trees that have had the disease for some time help us with the identification of affected trees. Especially interesting are the ones showing the ‘witches broom’ effect in the crowns of young trees. 

Image: thetreehunter

Other  ways of identifying ash dieback includes looking at a young branch and scratching off a little of the bark, if it is green underneath the tree is healthy, if it is brown it is not.  Watch out for wilting on the leaves, which may throughout the summer become more blackened but still stay on the branch, diamond-shape lesions on the trunk or a balding crown.

To find out more about spotting ash dieback and other tree diseases already present in the UK, or to record possible disease in an ancient tree near you download the Tree Alert app or visit

It is now possible to record the impact of ash dieback when recording your finds on the Ancient Tree Hunt website

ATH living status

You can upload images to the record to show the signs of disease and add more as the years go by to show how the tree reacts over time. We may find some very valuable resistant trees this way.

At the Woodland Trust we are looking at ways to fight tree disease and we will be holding a conference in June with some of the top minds in conservation, forestry and tree health to find a way forward for our country’s trees and woods. We need you to help please, by getting into the great outdoors, looking at trees and checking them for signs of disease, so we have as accurate a picture of the situation as possible.

Jill Butler, Conservation Adviser (Ancient Trees)


About Kaye Brennan

Trying vegan, staying warm. Occasional bursts of words.
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13 Responses to Summer time is when to spot diseases such as ash dieback

  1. The Open Air Laboratories network (Natural History Museum, Field Studies Council, etc) has produced a fantastic Tree Survey Pack available for free download, it includes Ash Dieback but lots more besides:

  2. The messages involved in this article are very important. Thank you for raising greater awareness. Provided a link to it at .

  3. Pingback: Summer time is when to spot diseases such as ash dieback | thinkingcountry

  4. argylesock says:

    Reblogged this on Science on the Land and commented:
    argylesock says… Summer has arrived here in Britain. If you can go outside, please do. If you see any trees which might be diseased or ancient I hope you’ll report them to the Woodland Trust. As this article explains, ash dieback is just one of several disease threats to our trees.

  5. have several ash trees under observation in Bloomsbury and so far all ok

  6. Imogen Radford says:

    Here are the links to the Forestry Commission info and tree alert reporting app (which you can use on a PC or mobile device) are:
    How to spot chalara in spring (video):
    Tree alert – to report and for info:
    Other tree diseases:

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