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David Humphries

Massaria on the March

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I've been folowing the migration & documentation of massaria (Splanchnonema platani) infected London Planes in & about the capital over the last two or three years via site visits, seminars, trade journals & the odd thread here at AT.

 

The anticipated discovery of branch failures is now upon us here in North London and Massaria is seemingly heavily entrenched in the Plane population here on my working doorstep.

 

We are now discovering with increasing regularity both dead & live branches ( on the ground & in the canopy) with diameters ranging from a few centimeters to 15 + with the tell tale symptoms of the infection.

 

At the weekend a sizable length of Plane with what appears to be both Massaria & possibly Inonotus hispidus dropped without warning.

It wasn't picked up as a potential for failure during our (ground) inspections.

 

This particular avenue is 100 years old or so & has a high footfall of pedestrians using it all day long (in this current weather) but also all year round during commuting times as there is an over ground rail station just at the end of the avenue.

 

 

Couple of site context images.

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An 9m long limb with a diameter (at its union) of around 16cm, detached without warning a couple of days ago.

 

It was still in leaf, and dropped from 12m or so up.

 

It has the typical upper surface dysfunction of Massaria but also what appears to be the white rot of possibly Inonotus hispidus running through the core of the branch.

 

 

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We've been periodically dead wooding these trees, as often the dead branches stand out.

But we will now embark on a programme of aerial inspection to assess each of these Planes (50 in this avenue) for any non dead looking branches with symptoms of the infection that will require removal.

 

Having been involved with the removal of a significant number of branches over the last couple of days I have consistantly been very suprised at how weakly these branches are attached.

 

 

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Another set of shots revealing the the almost total circumferance die back, with just a thin lick of functioning wood left on the underside of the branch.

 

 

 

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Such an interesting/worrying thread Dave. Having worked on a large number of Planes in London during the last few years and knowing how many there are all over the Capital it,s quite a concern!...a branch like the one in the first picture dropping at 12 metres could do a lot of Dammage....it,s very heavy timber.

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What do you think will happen to the form of the trees in the longer term David? Do you think the canopies will shrink as the branches are lost or will the regrowth be sufficient to replace the missing bits? Or maybe they will they end up as pollards or shredded pollards? Or does the fungus eventually kill the stem?

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Fantastic thread and photo collection David, thanks for posting. This has got to be a real headache for you. Are you using a MEWP to quickly and efficiently do the aerial inspections or do they all need to be climbed?

 

Also, what have you read/heard in terms of Massaria's spread northwards? I wonder how long it will be before we see it here in the midlands.

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That avenue of planes looks like the bottom end of Parliament Hill to me.

 

Like you say a very heavily pedestrian traffic area.

 

Al

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What do you think will happen to the form of the trees in the longer term David? Do you think the canopies will shrink as the branches are lost or will the regrowth be sufficient to replace the missing bits? Or maybe they will they end up as pollards or shredded pollards? Or does the fungus eventually kill the stem?

 

It's seemingly 'lifting' the canopies of these specific trees Giles, so I believe the situation will be a continuation of apical growth tendancy which is already exagerated by the close planting distances.

There appears to be some evidence of epicormic activity at the base of some of the effected branches that we've removed.

I've not read that Massaria shuts the trees down completely. Maybe someone with more experience of the progression can add here.

 

 

This has got to be a real headache for you. Are you using a MEWP to quickly and efficiently do the aerial inspections or do they all need to be climbed?

 

Also, what have you read/heard in terms of Massaria's spread northwards? I wonder how long it will be before we see it here in the midlands.

 

Inspections will more than likely be via MEWP Paul

As the trees are closely spaced & we could possibly get three/four trees inspected per set up.

 

I haven't picked up on any one outside of the London area that is currently managing Massaria, but I have a feeling it has been here at Hampstead for a lot longer than we suspect & looks to be radiating out from the central london open spaces & road side avenues.

 

 

That avenue of planes looks like the bottom end of Parliament Hill to me

 

South End Green Al, at the bottom of East Heath Road.

Towards the Royal Free.

Not far from PH.

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