If you’ve been out spotting in the last week or two, you’ve probably noticed some dramatic changes near the Beech Collection. Due to the presence of beech bark disease–compounded by recent periods of drought–many of the Arboretum’s oldest beeches have gone into decline. Caused by an exotic sap-feeding scale insect (Cryptococcus fagisuga) and a secondary infection of two species of Nectria fungi, beech bark disease poses an ecological threat to forests throughout the Northeast (read more here). In order to combat this destructive disease here at the Arboretum, heavily affected and failing trees–sources of fungal inoculum–are being removed from the collections.
The following Tree Spotters beeches have been removed as part of this measure: 22798*A, 14585*B, 14585*C
While all of us in the Arboretum community are sad to see these venerable trees go, this decision represents an important step towards protecting younger, vulnerable plants in the living collection. Fortunately, in time, older specimens will be succeeded by the healthy young American beech saplings nearby–many of them suckers from the older trees. Additionally, ground liberated by these removals presents valuable planting space for a new generation of Arboretum accessions.
In response to this measure, the Tree Spotters team–working with the curation and horticulture departments–is in the process of identifying new beeches to monitor, along with an additional set of new species for the program–so stay tuned!