Anybody who walks around Slave Lake knows about the black fungus infesting mayday and ornamental cherry and plum trees. It’s been going on for the past 10 years or so and it has moved into the wild cherry bushes in town.
The Leader has more than once done stories on it. The word from the experts is that you have to prune your tree back and burn or bury the infected parts to get rid of it. But still a lot of tree owners don’t. Can’t be bothered, or don’t know why they should. And, according to Grant Lacombe of Widewater, garden centres keep selling ornamental cherry trees and people keep buying them.
Why anyone would plant one of these susceptible species is baffling. Or, why they’d not do something about it when it becomes infected.
“The hospital is the worst offender,” says Lacombe. “I brought it to their attention,” he adds, but nothing was done about it.
High Prairie School Division is another. The big mayday next to the front entrance of Roland Michener School is an ugly, infected mass of black knots – has been for years. Lacombe says he phoned the HPSD also, and it also appears to be uninterested in doing anything about it. He says he’s phoned the Town of Slave Lake about it too, with unsatisfying results. He’s not the first to make that effort. Andy Maddex, when he was working as an arborist in Slave Lake, made a formal presentation to town council a few years ago on the outbreak.
Ornamental trees being killed off is one thing; native chokecherries is another. Whether any reasonable cure for the infestation is likely or possible at this point is uncertain. But Lacombe things at least private owners of infected trees should do something about them.
“Cut them down,” he says. “Take your loss.”
Black knot fungus: ugly and contagious.