Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ash yellows

For folks with White Ash trees, early May can be a nail-biting time as they wait and wait for the leaves to appear.

Ashes are one of the last native trees to leaf out in the spring. Many are still not out yet.

But ash owners aware of the “ash yellows” are particularly anxious to see leaves in the hopes that this deadly disease has not struck their tree. The result could be a hulk costing many hundreds of dollars to remove.

Ash yellows is a protoplasma, a kind of parasitic bacteria possibly transmitted by beetles, that attacks ashes and can kill them as in as quickly as one year – an amazing feat, considering White Ash may be anywhere from 50 to 100 feet tall, with up to a five foot diameter trunk.

One sign of a diseased tree are “witches’ brooms,” spindly clusters of leaves amid limbs that are otherwise leafless (see picture)

No one knows for sure how it spreads or exactly how it works, and no one has a way of preventing ashes from catching it.

But by now, if your ash has avoided infection, at least leaf buds should be appearing. If not, better plan on calling a tree crew.

Save the wood, though – ash is great in the fireplace.

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