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Unwanted holiday souvenir: Zylella Fastidiosa

Are you also looking forward to the summer holidays? Spending time in Spain or Italy. Enjoying the sun? Hiking along citrus and olive plantations. And while you are at it; maybe be able to score a Yamadori too. With olive trees all around, there are plenty of seedlings to choose from. Some of these might even have been around for decades, nicely decorated with dead sections and natural Yin. Your own olive Yamadori. Found and collected by you. Is that not the dream of every bonsai lover?

Yet.. It may be that the time to do that has passed. You need to be very carefull collecting these trees. Why you ask? Because Italy and Spain are under threat of an infectious disease on many olive plantations. This disease may turn your own collected olive yamadori souvenir into a a problem at home. Why?

Source: https://www.ibizavandaag.nl

Source: https://www.ibizavandaag.nl

Zylella Fastidiosa

In the south of Italy, in the heel of the Itally’s proverbial boot, as well as in Corsica and in France around Nice, a bacterial infection is the reason why many ancient olive plantations are being torn up. Over large areas all trees are uprooted, cut up and destroyed. One could wonder why. After all, how bad can a little infection be? Unfortunately, the disease is uncurable and final. Once infected, a tree will eventually die of this disease. The disease has similar symptoms as Verticilium infections. Individual branches die off, leaves burn as if a plant does not get any water. The plants get infected through sucking insects, which is also the main vector for distribution of the disease. As soon as a plant is infected, the bacteria move through the plant in the sapwood, infecting all areas. There is no known cure for it yet.

This disease is now so well established and widespread that areas of several hundred of kilometres have been cleared of Olive trees. As a direct resut, prices for olive oil and olives from Italy are on the rise.

But hey, how does that affect the area where you live, as you do not have olive plantations in your area? Right?

Wider risks of infections?

Appearently, this bacteria is not only infecting Olives or Citrus. In fact, over 200 species have been identified that can be infected by this bacteria. And now a rule is in place that determines that all plants within 100 metres of the infected plant have to be destroyed, and plants within 10 kilometres need to be quarantained. One could say that these are true risky implicatons, right!?

Also for bonsai growers Zylella Fastidiosa may have implications. What would you say if a quarantaine was implemented forbidding long distance transprt of plants. Noelanders Trophy without trees from outside Belgium would not be the same, don’t you agree? And taking a workshop outside your own region, and bringing your own plant? No way!So no matter how great the tree you find.. Maybe it is better to, for the time being, leave it where it is. And wait for better times.

I wish you a pleasant holidays!

Background information

This following background reading was used in preparing the article. Note this is all in Dutch!
Factsheet on xylella fastidiosa
Diseases on the Dutch Food Authority
Wageningen University

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