Phytophthora comes from the Greek for ‘plant destroyer’ and is one of the world’s most destructive genera of plant pathogens responsible for major plant diseases in many parts of the world although, prior to the 1990s, they had little impact in European woodlands. This has changed dramatically in the last two decades, the result, it seems, of marginal climatic changes creating warmer and wetter conditions.
Phytophthoras are a family of virulent fungal pathogens which are now aggressively active in the UK. There are believed to be over 500 different strains which seem able to spread effortlessly above and below ground. The UK has a worrying number of Phytophthorastrains already active – mostly recent arrivals.