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Quick facts

Common name: European mountain ash ringspot-associated virus

Scientific name: none

What does it affect?: trees in the Sorbus family including rowan, whitebeam, service tree and wild service tree

Areas affected so far: Scotland

Origin: unknown

What does European mountain ash ringspot-associated virus look like?

Symptoms include:

  • Discolouration and mottling of the leaves. Over time, the leaves become speckled and develop mottled patterns of ringspots.
  • A decline in the health of some infected trees as leaf productivity is reduced.

What is European mountain ash ringspot-associated virus?

European mountain ash ringspot-associated virus is known to be a virus that may work alone or in association with mites. As it stands, we don’t know much about the viruses that affect trees.

Where has European mountain ash ringspot-associated virus impacted?

European mountain ash ringspot-associated virus has currently only been reported in Scotland. Other than these reports and isolated cases on cultivated trees, not much is known about its UK range, but it’s likely that it is more widespread than first thought.

In the rest of Europe, the symptoms of the virus have been reported from the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

Rowan leaf infected by European mountain ash ringspot associated virus

Credit: Adrian Fox / FERA Science Ltd

How did European mountain ash ringspot-associated virus get here and what impact will it have?

We don’t know how the virus got here or where it originates. Little is known about the virus in general, until further studies are undertaken we don’t even know what the severity or full effects will be.

We do know that affected trees grow more slowly than healthy trees and might suffer gradual dieback after a few years.

What are we doing about it?

To combat the spread of pests and diseases like European mountain ash ringspot-associated virus we have:

  • Developed a UK Sourced and Grown assurance scheme to make sure that all the trees we plant and sell are produced in the UK.
  • Lobbied the government to improve biosecurity at border points to stop new pests and diseases entering the UK.
  • Partnered with Observatree, a tree health citizen science project which trains volunteers to spot pests and diseases, thereby helping tree health authorities identify and manage outbreaks early.
Horse chestnut tree discoloured to yellow after a leaf miner infestation

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What to do if you spot it

If you think you’ve spotted the signs and symptoms of this disease, please report it to the plant health authorities via TreeAlert if you are in Britain, or TreeCheck if you are in Northern Ireland.

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