Page last updated at 10:50 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 11:50 UK

Cash plea over deadly plant disease

Rhododendron
The disease is mostly found in pot-grown shrubs

A fundraising appeal has been launched by the National Trust for Scotland to safeguard rare plants from disease.

The charity hopes to raise 50,000 to back up species which are currently under threat.

Deadly plant diseases have already affected several of the trust's 60-plus gardens and landscapes around Scotland.

Phytophthora ramorum, also known as Sudden Oak Death, has been found at trust gardens in Arduaine in Argyll and Inverewe, in Ross-shire.

A similar disease, Phytophthora kernoviae, has also been detected at Brodick, on Arran.

Both diseases can kill popular trees and shrubs and damage plant collections.

Sudden Oak Death was first discovered in the United States, where it has devastated native tree species.

The trust's head of gardens and landscape services, Jan Haenraets, said: "Both Phytophthora ramorum and kernoviae are serious diseases for Scotland and present a real challenge for all gardeners - not just those caring for trust plant collections.

"So far, the impact on plant collections has been contained, but we are concerned about the long-term implications.

"This fundraising will help us to reduce the risk of losing irreplaceable, important plants."

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