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Reducing the risk of spreading Xylella fastidiosa

Why we have decided to delist olive trees from our shop

In recent years, a bacterial disease known as Xylella has been spreading across Europe with Olive Trees being a known host for the disease. The RHS and other environmental bodies have acted to prevent the disease from reaching the UK.

Getting to know Xylella

Xylella fastidiosa is a bacterial disease native to the Americas that affects crops like coffee, citrus trees and grapevines.

The disease was first discovered in Europe in 2013. This was after a large number of olive trees in Southern Italy died from Xylella. Major outbreaks have occurred in Italy and Spain since then and there are concerns that the disease could spread further.

Xylella is a very serious threat to cherry, almond and plum trees. As a result, the RHS and DEFRA have banned olive trees from various shows to prevent the disease from reaching the UK.

Why olive trees?

Olive trees are a known host of the disease. In the UK, we do not grow olive trees. So, garden centres and nurseries import them from countries like Spain and Italy. While the UK has strict plant-passporting and phytosanitary certificates in place for all imported plants, Xylella can remain undetected within host plants for many years.

What are the symptoms of Xylella fastidiosa?

Xylella limits a host plants’ ability to absorb water and nutrients from the soil. Over time you will see its leaves turning brown before the plant withers and eventually dies.

Actions we have taken

At Muddy Trowel, we have taken the decision to stop selling Olive trees. While the risk is low, we want to do our bit and minimise the risk of this disease spreading in the UK. 

As a business, we commit to doing all we can to protect the environment. We place a large focus on British grown plants as we know these present a very low risk when it comes to plant-diseases. 

It also means our products have travelled fewer miles and they are more suited to our weather. The end result being better and longer-lasting plants for you to enjoy!

Should you be worried about Xylella?

The short answer is no. The risk to existing olive trees, those purchased from us or elsewhere, is very small. You can find a whole host of detailed information on DEFRA’s plant health portal

We hope this post provides context around why we have delisted Olive trees from our store. If you have any concerns and want to get in touch with us please do.

Some substitutions that we sell could be: