On 3 December about fifty arborists and avenue tree surgeons gathered at the CRA-W for an afternoon of information on the theme "The plane tree, health problems of today and tomorrow" .
The participants learned from the experience of consultant arborist Francis Maire on how to manage canker stain that affects plane trees in the south of France. This disease is native to North America and is caused by the vascular pathogenic fungus Ceratocystis platani. It was introduced into Europe at the end of the Second World War, and is now responsible for extensive damage in various European countries including Italy, Switzerland or Greece. Occurrence of the disease in France led to the felling of several thousand plane trees along the Canal du Midi. The infection of plane trees with C. platani initially causes the formation of discrete necrosis in the bark of the trunk and branches. As a result of vascular tissue dysfunction, the fungus can then cause abrupt drying of the branches. The use of contaminated tools plays a significant part in spreading the disease.
As part of the FUNGIFOR project, the CRA-W monitored canker stain of plane trees in Belgium in collaboration with the PCS (Proefcentrum voor Sierteelt). C. platani was not detected in any of the 78 sites visited in 2016 and 2017. A risk analysis of the introduction of this pathogenic fungus into Belgium was also carried out as part of the project. This shows that the risk of introduction is mainly associated with pruning operations on our plane trees, often carried out by private companies that also operate in countries already affected by the disease. It also highlights a risk that is all the more significant considering that the specifications issued by our cities and towns do not normally include obligations relating to the disinfection of pruning tools.
The afternoon of information therefore provided an opportunity for a debate on good practices in preventing the introduction of canker stain in Belgium. The need for vigilance in order to detect a potential infection as soon as possible was also stressed.
If suspicious symptoms are observed, the CRA-W Consultation Desk can be contacted to arrange an analysis specifically targeting C platani. A leaflet describing the symptoms and biology of this pathogenic fungus, along with guidance for collecting samples, is available on request.
FUNGIFOR project: funded by SPF Public Health, Food Chain and Environment Safety.