My good friend, José, popped by yesterday morning; he wanted to show me something.
We are used to having American Blight on our Chestnut trees, but this is something far more serious.
I hope you can see the reddish swellings on the small branch (above), they look rather like Oak Apples or certain hairy growths that appear on wild Roses. Each contains one or two grubs that will mature to become a tiny flying insect that in turn will lay about 200 eggs. As yet there is no real antidote other than an insect that eats them, but reproduces at a much slower rate. All his grafted trees are affected, as well as the wild trees in the woods. They kill the trees.
Already this wretched insect (which hails from Japan) has created havoc through Italy, Spain, and other countries to the east. Entire areas are now denuded of their Chestnut trees.
José is a true Chestnut aficionado. He lives and breathes Chestnuts, and has huge plantations. Our local woodland is also about 80% Chestnut. It is simply unimaginable the impact this problem will have on the area. It will change it radically.
Our mushroom crop (Cepes) will also be affected, as the Boletus mycelium lives in symbiosis with the Chestnut. I cannot imagine life here without Cepes and the excitement of our autumn Cepe hunting. And if you were thinking of laying Chestnut Parquet flooring in your home, you'd better do it now.
Poor José was distraught. He could see his very raison d'etre slowing being eroded. It remains to be seen what shape the trees are in this time next year.
I thought he said it was called Cyneps, but I can't find any reference to this on Google. (p.s. Rachel now tells me it's called Cynips; thank you)
p.s. I've just had a look at my own few Chestnut trees on the edge of our field, and they too have these bloody growths on them. Horror!