CONCERNS have been raised over the spread of a “dangerous” disease affecting scores of trees across the Lake District.

Ramorum disease, otherwise known as Phytophthora Ramorum or P Ramorum, is a disease which is found on shrubs and trees – it is mainly affecting larch trees in woodlands on both sides of the border.

Ultimately, any trees which are infected are highly likely to die over the coming months and years.

According to a report published by the Forestry Commission last year, Cumbria saw a total of 29 new cases reported between 2018/19 – most affecting trees in the southern half of the county. However, several cases have been reported as north as Keswick.

It is a significant rise after about six reports were made between 2017/18.

Elsewhere in Scotland, a flurry of cases have also been reported in Dumfries and Galloway between 2018/19, with many logged close to the Cumbria-Scotland border.

P Ramorum is an algae-like organism called a water mould.

It causes extensive damage and death to more than 150 plant species, including some forest species.

The disease is known to thrive in wetter, western regions of the UK, which makes areas like Cumbria a hotspot for it to spread.

To combat it from affecting other trees, those spotted with signs of P Ramorum at Tarn Hows near Hawkshead have already been felled.

In a statement, Forestry Research has advised fell walkers on what signs to look out for.

They said: “Symptoms on the bark include lesions – sometimes known as bleeding cankers – which exude, or ooze, dark fluid from infected bark, as seen on the Western hemlock branch pictured above.

“This exudate can dry to a crust on the bark.

“The inner bark under this bleeding area is usually discoloured and dying.

“Trees with branch dieback can also have numerous resinous cankers on the branches and upper trunk.

“Trees die when the lesions become extensive on the main trunk.

“Shoots and foliage can also be affected, visible as wilted, withered shoot tips with blackened needles. The infected shoots shed their needles prematurely.”

To report a case, call the Forestry Commission on 0300 067 4321.

Alternatively, those who spot anything while out and about should email, and attach at least one clear, well-lit photograph of the symptoms.

The Cumberland News contacted a representative from Defra to confirm if the number of cases had increased within the last year across Cumbria, but after repeated requests, failed to receive a response by the time we went to press.