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Protecting a Little-Known Tree From an Insidious Disease

Source:  Copyright 2006, New York Times
Date:  November 28, 2006
Byline:  Murray Carpenter
Original URL: Status ONLINE


In the 29 years since a fungal disease known as butternut canker was first observed in southwest Wisconsin, it has infected over 90 percent of butternut trees throughout their native range from New Brunswick, Canada, to Georgia to Minnesota.

Dale Bergdahl, recently retired after 29 years as a University of Vermont forestry professor, has been tracking more than 100 butternut trees here in the University of Vermont’s Jericho Research Forest.

Dr. Bergdahl was the first to find the canker in Vermont, near Snake Mountain, in the fall of 1983. Since then, it has killed half the butternuts in the state. The fungus, Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum, was described as a new species in 1979 and bears the earmarks of being recently introduced. But it has never been found outside North America.

Dutch elm disease and chestnut blight, also caused by fungi, were notorious, and much more conspicuous, because elms and chestnuts were ...

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