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Dutch elm disease found in Epsom

Published: 9 January 2020

Approximately fourteen elm trees on Empire Ave, Inverary Ave, Kimberley Ave, Atherton Ave and St Leonards Road in Albert-Eden will be removed after being found to have Dutch elm disease.

The fungal disease is fast spreading, almost always fatal and infected trees must be removed to prevent the disease from spreading further.

The trees are scheduled for removal over the next couple of weeks, starting with pruning of infected branches on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 January to try and reduce infection spread.

“This is incredibly sad, as these are very beautiful avenues of majestic deciduous trees unique to Auckland,” says Auckland Council arboriculture and eco specialist, Simon Cook.

What is Dutch elm disease?

  • It is caused by the fungus Ophiostoma novo-ulmi
  • The disease is commonly spread by the scolytus multistriatus (elm bark beetle) carrying fungal spores from an infected tree to disease-free trees but can also be spread between trees via root grafting
  • Under the Biosecurity Act 1993, it is classified as an unwanted organism
  • Dutch elm disease is a destructive fungal disease and is almost always fatal once a tree is infected
  • It is critical that elm wood is not carried outside Auckland, especially as logs or firewood
  • Infected trees must always be removed to prevent the disease from spreading further, and the wood must be mulched to prevent dying trees becoming a source of infection or a hazard. In some areas, burning or burying elm material is an option
  • No storage of elm material is allowed.

Check your elm trees

This latest discovery is a timely reminder for all Aucklanders to check elm trees on their properties for signs of the disease.

Elms are deciduous trees distinguished by their large leaves, which feature serrated edges, symmetrical veins, and an asymmetrical base. Signs of Dutch elm disease include wilting, curling or yellowing of leaves or dying or dead branches on elm trees.

Cook says people should not attempt to remove diseased trees themselves as incorrect processing of trees could spread the disease. People should instead call Auckland Council on 09 301 0101.

“Do not be tempted to use the timber for firewood. Diseased wood must not be stored, and it is illegal to move diseased wood within or out of the Auckland region,” says Cook.

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