UK: Dame Helen Mirren voices animation warning of ‘devastating’ plant disease

Dame Helen Mirren is backing efforts to keep deadly plant disease Xylella out of the UK by voicing an animation warning of the risks it poses.

The bacterium Xylella fastidiosa can infect more than 500 species of plant, including garden favourites such as lavender, oleander, rosemary and flowering cherry.

It prevents water travelling from roots to leaves, causing leaf scorch, wilt, die-back and plant death.

The disease, which has no known cure, is not present in the UK but has been on the march in Europe, devastating olive groves in Puglia, Italy, while outbreaks have also been found in France, Spain and Portugal.

In the four-minute animation, which explains the risks and tells gardeners what they can do to stop the spread of the disease to the UK, Dame Helen says she has seen firsthand the devastation done to olive trees in Italy.

The film, which portrays Xylella as space invaders attacking plants, aims to educate the public on the insect-borne disease, the symptoms, consequences of infection and the risks of bringing plants back from abroad.

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