|Stem lesions on Bilberry|
These two, linked diseases reportedly attack heather, although their common name of "Sudden Oak Death" gives an indication of the preferred host. Apparently this disease is more of a threat in England and Wales than in Scotland, although I do not think that there is any scope for complacency anywhere. There have been several hundred recorded outbreaks in England & Wales, but only 29 in Scotland.
The main host for spreading the diseases is Rhododendron but of concern is the outbreak that has been reported in Japanese Larch in SW England. The diseases capacity for affecting heather & bilberry (blaeberry) is not yet clear, although these species are reported as hosts.
For those seeking to know more and to see photographs of the disease, I suggest that Scottish Government's website that has links to the guidance available on the Food & Environment Research Agency's site.
A programme of inspections, control and monitoring is underway throughout the UK and it is clear that vigilance and early treatment of outbreaks will aid the control of this new pest. I recommend that all owners of woodland, especially those containing exotic plants, should take the time to familiarise themselves with this disease. Owners of moorland need to be on their guard and I will aim to keep you up to date with further developments.