Phytophthora Ramorum: Glengorm’s Battle

30743234_1438219839616613_2696114554118602752_nOur landscape at Glengorm is always changing and evolving, some of it planned and sadly, some of it unexpected. First of all you would have noticed the Rhododendron trees being cleared from around the castle, opening up the views out to sea, but leaving the hills looking somewhat bare without them. Then, you will have noticed a huge area of larch trees also disappearing as you near the castle.

Last year the estate was surveyed for signs of a tree disease named Phytophthora Ramorum (larch tree disease),  that was first found in Sussex in 2002 and has since spread across the UK. Unfortunately P.Ramorum was found in some of Glengorm’s rhododendrons and in turn, the disease had also spread to our larch trees. P.Ramorum is a fungus like pathogen called a water mould which causes extensive damage and death to a wide range of trees and other plants. It is found predominantly in the west of the UK, in wet areas, so of course here on Mull we have the perfect conditions for it. The disease is carried by spores and can be spread easily through the air. The disease does not always kill the rhododendrons, but they carry a huge amount of the spores and can quickly spread the disease to larch trees. The infected larch trees shed their needles prematurely as they become wilted and blackened, many trees also suffering from cankers or wounds, on the branches and upper trunk. To tackle the disease a large number of rhododendron were dug up and destroyed, with many of our larch trees also being felled.

Though the beautiful Glengorm landscape looks somewhat barren without many of our trees, we have hopefully managed to stop this horrific disease in it’s tracks, before it kills hundreds more larch trees. Looking to the future we hope to replant some of the areas with mixed woodland containing more deciduous trees and even look create wildflower meadows to encourage even greater biodiversity at Glengorm.