Sudden Oak Death fungus, as you may know, has been ravaging California’s oak trees since 1995. I see from recent articles that the fungus is now beginning to appear in nurseries on the east coast: Georgia, Maryland, and Florida
I see that it has also made its appearance now in Great Britain
What little I know about this disease sounds pretty scary: high mortality rate for oaks, plus the fungus is able to infect numerous non-oak hardwood species (though not with the same degree of fatality that oaks experience, apparently).
Are we on the cusp of an ecological disaster of gigantic proportions? Old timers may remember the way Dutch Elm disease ravaged elm tree populations, and blight destroyed American chestnut trees.
But oaks? That’s scary.
Oaks make up a very large percentage of trees in eastern forests. And I can’t speak for other cities, but the great majority of Atlanta’s shade trees are oaks. I’d guesstimate something like 75%. If these oaks were killed, Atlanta would look awfully naked. The “City in a Forest,” as Atlanta sometimes likes to bill itself, would look more like a “City on a Parking Lot.” I suspect the same is true for many cities in the east and midwest.
So is this fungus cause for alarm? Can it be stopped? Are eastern US species threatened?
I suppose this post is part GD and part GQ. I’m inviting exposition with those with information about this disease, and debate on its long-term effects.