They add a touch of the Mediterranean to our gardens. But potted olive trees will be banned from Royal Horticultural Society shows to stop them from bringing a plant-killing disease into the UK. The bacterial disease Xylella fastidiosa has ravaged olive groves in Italy and threatens trees including oak and cherry.
The bug, which can cause leaf scorch, wilt, and dieback, has not been reported in the UK. Its discovery would prompt strict measures to stop its spread. Coffee, oleander, polygala, and Spanish broom have also been banned from RHS events including the Chelsea Flower Show. The five typically imported plants can all harbor the bug.
Alistair Griffiths of the RHS said: ‘RHS shows are intended as a celebration of our gardens but we also have a responsibility to promote good stewardship of them through detecting, identifying and managing plant pests and diseases.
'When it comes to showcasing these five high-risk Xylella host plants the risk far outweighs the benefits and we have taken the difficult decision to put a hold on their display until we are comfortable that the risks of them carrying the bacterium is low.’ Xylella outbreaks have been recorded in France, Spain, Portugal, and Germany, as well as Italy. If a Xylella outbreak was found in the UK, all host plants within a 100 meter range would be destroyed and there would be a ban on the movement of plants within a 5km range, including private gardens.
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