Xylella fastidiosa causes disease in over 500 plant species. It has not been detected in the UK but there have been major outbreaks across Europe.
There are serious concerns about the risk of introduction of Xylella via infected host plants imported into the UK. The bacterium causes symptoms including leaf scorch, wilt, dieback and plant death can infect more than 350 different plant species. The horticultural industry and the UK government are taking measures to try to prevent the arrival of Xylella.
Unfortunately, there are many plants which can be infected with Xylella. In Europe the highest risk plants include:
- Polygala myrtifolia (polygala)
- Olea europaea (olive)
- Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary)
- Lavandula spp. (lavendar)
- Prunus spp. (plums, cherries, almonds etc.)
- Nerium oleander (oleander)
- Coffea (coffee)
- Hebe spp. (hebe)
- Spartium junceum (Spanish broom)
A full list of Xylella host plants in Europe is available here.
In the video above, Dame Helen Mirren helps to renew efforts to keep plant disease Xylella fastidiosa out of the UK in 2020 – the UN’s International Year of Plant Health - narrating a new animation that warns of the devastation it causes. Xylella is a bacterium that infects more than 500 species of plant causing leaf scorch, wilt, die-back and plant death. There is no known cure for the disease. Xylella is not present in the UK but the public is being asked to look out for symptoms and to report them to the TreeAlert service when the cause cannot be explained by other factors, such as frost damage, drought or other common pests and diseases. Advice to help prevent the introduction of Xylella includes:
- Source new plants carefully, where possible purchase plants grown in the UK
- Propagate your own plants from seeds or cuttings
- Check plants for signs of disease before purchase and monitor the health of new plants
- Never bring plants back with you from abroad