Xylellafastidiosa - a threat to the UK horticulture industry

What is the threat?

Xylellafastidiosa is one of the most harmful bacterial plant diseases in the world. It can cause severe losses in a wide range of hosts and there would be a massive impact on the plant trade across all business sectors in the event of an OUTBREAK in the UK.

An OUTBREAK of this disease, where several different plants are infected, will trigger immediate stock destruction within 100 metres and a movement ban of host plants within a 10-kilometre radius for up to five years. This will dramatically and immediately affect most plant selling operations, as well as impacting on all businesses dealing in plants within the 10km zone. Gardens could also be affected.

What should businesses do to stop it coming into the UK?

Only buy potential host plants from trusted plant passported suppliers who know where their plants come from. We strongly recommend that potential host plants are not sourced from or near regions where there have been findings of Xylellafastidiosa. Current demarcated areas can be seen at: http://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/plant/docs/ph_biosec_legis_list-demarcated-union-territory_en.pdf

The list of host plants is growing and includes many popular garden and landscape plants, such as lavender, rosemary, oak and many others. The current list of confirmed hosts is at: https://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/plant_health_biosecurity/legislation/emergency_measures/Xylella-fastidiosa/susceptible_en

What happens if the disease is found in the UK?

The full emergency measures imposed at EU level are only triggered when the disease has spread and there is an OUTBREAK. The full emergency measures are not triggered if the disease is found on a single plant or within a batch of plants and is diagnosed and contained before it spreads. This is known as an INTERCEPTION. Stock will still be destroyed in this circumstance but the movement ban is very unlikely to come in force.

Several wholesale nurseries have signed up to plant sourcing statements such as the one below:

“The following nurseries have taken the decision NOT to knowingly purchase any host plants originating from regions where the disease Xylella is known to exist. The decision has been taken after detailed consideration as to the potential catastrophic impact the introduction of the disease could have to the UK environment, coupled with the ever increasing number of host plant genera of this disease. This is in line with DEFRA’s good practice recommendations.”

For the full list of nurseries signed up to the statement, please click here.

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