Elm Disease In Queen’s Park [updated]

Posted on by Conrad Brunner

This is a worrying time for tree lovers in Brighton and Hove. The warm summer months of June, July and August are the high risk period for elm trees in the area as they come under attack from the elm bark beetles that carry the disease.


All that remains of an ancient elm tree which stood in Queen’s Park for over 150 years

There have already been some significant casualties in the annual struggle with elm disease, noticeably the loss of a gnarly old elm – over 150 years old – in the heart of Queen’s Park [above]. “We don’t like to lose that one important tree,” says the council, and they are likely to be cutting a trench in the park around the roots of the felled tree to prevent infection spreading.

Another sick tree was spotted on the park side of West Drive, and both were swiftly felled by the council’s arborocultural team and carried off to be cremated in the council facilities at Patcham.


Infected trees are swiftly felled by the council’s arborocultural team

Last year, three elms were cut down at the foot of Freshfield Road. Now a new case has been identified at the top of the road, just up from the Freshfield Arms pub [see photo].


Condemned: an infected elm tree on Freshfield Road. It will be removed shortly.

This provides a perfect example of what the disease looks like [above], with the distinctive out-of-season discolouration set against the remaining green leaves of a once healthy tree.



Alarming as these incidents are, they are not unusual for summer, and the overall condition of the elm population in Brighton & Hove is described by the council as ‘pretty good’. The numbers of infected trees are at manageable levels, remaining steady for at least the last five years. The situation is somewhat worse outside of the city, in East Sussex, where cutbacks in forestry budgets may have contributed to the loss of several significant Elms in the Alfriston area. The worst outbreak of elm disease identified in Summer 2015 has been in the grounds of Sussex University, where 60 elm trees were recently felled.

Trench dig

Digging a trench in Queens Park to protect the elms from possible infection

IMPORTANT: if you have an elm tree in your garden, and have identified an infection, the council will remove the tree free of charge. See full details on the council website here. If you have spotted any other outbreaks of the disease, please contact the council via the parks website.

You can read more about the Elm Trees Of Queen’s Park here.

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