Anne Frank’s tree of hope toppled by storm


Sad news, the 150-year-old horse chestnut that brought comfort to Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis in World War Two has toppled in high winds and heavy rain.

The tree, whose trunk was diseased and rotten, snapped a metre (3ft) above the ground, and crashed into neighbouring gardens in Amsterdam at 13.30 local time,  it is reported.

It smashed into a brick wall and sheds, but nobody was  injured.

The Anne Frank House museum, which has a million visitors a year, escaped unscathed during Monday’s poor weather.

“Someone yelled: ‘It’s falling. The tree is falling,’ and then you heard it go down,” museum spokeswoman Maatje Mostart told the Associated Press. “Luckily no one was hurt.”

‘Unpleasantly surprised’

A global campaign to save “the Anne Frank tree” was launched in 2007 after Dutch officials and conservationists declared it a safety hazard and ordered it felled. They feared it could topple and crash into the museum.

But the Support Anne Frank Tree Foundation won a court injunction in November that year, stopping the city authorities from chopping it down. Neighbours and campaigners argued that, as a symbol of freedom, the tree was worth making extraordinary efforts to preserve.

But it was blighted with fungus and moths, and two years ago conservationists encased the trunk in steel girders to prop it up.

The Netherlands’ Trees Institute, a leading supporter of the project to save the tree, said it was “unpleasantly surprised” to hear it had fallen.

“On the advice of experts in tree care, it had been calculated that the tree could live several more decades” the institute said in a statement. “Alas, in the event it seems that nature is stronger.”

The Jewish teenager referred several times to the tree in the diary that she kept during the 25 months she remained in hiding.

Anne Frank wrote on 23 February 1944: “From my favourite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind.”

She died, aged 15, the following year in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Source: Anne Frank Museum

Date: 23/08/2010

Forest Research draws up canker plan


Forest Research is to develop guidance on managing and drawing up controlling strategies for the bleeding canker tree blight, reports Horticulture Week.

“This disease has rapidly become widespread throughout Britain over the past five years,” said a representative for the research arm of the Forestry Commission.

Bleeding canker of horse chestnut was caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pv aesculi (Psa), but until recently it had only been reported in India in 1980, he said.

“It has now proved to be highly mobile and exceptionally virulent to European horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum.”

Researchers were looking to provide an accurate diagnosis of the pathogen and underpin management strategies to combat the disease.

“A technique called real-time polymerase chain reaction has been developed and is being used to detect the levels of Psa on infected trees and their surroundings.”

Previously little was known about what natural resistance horse chestnut populations may have had to Psa.

“But evidence indicates that even in heavily affected locations some trees remain healthy and symptom-free.

“Disease-free horse chestnuts have been propagated and will be tested for disease resistance in inoculation trials and compared against other disease-prone individuals.

“This research will ultimately guide management and mitigation strategies. Molecular techniques developed will also be applicable to the study of other important tree diseases.”

Source: Horticulture Week

Date: 07/05/2009

Twiglet: Anne Frank’s tree branches out in the US


Saplings from the horse chestnut tree Anne Frank used to measure the seasons while hiding from the Nazis could be planted in 10 cities around the United States, the New York Times reports.

The Anne Frank Center USA wants to plant the trees in 10 US cities to symbolise the growth of tolerance. The three-foot (90cm) saplings would come from an ailing horse chestnut tree in Amsterdam.

Possible locations for the trees include the planned 11 September memorial, the White House and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The center plans to issue a request for proposals for other sites.

Source: New York Times

Date: 17/04/2009

Frank was among Jewish occupants of an Amsterdam building rounded up by the Gestapo. She died of typhus at age 15 in a concentration camp.

Twiglet: Horse chestnut


A native of Asia, probably northern India.

It was introduced to Europe in the mid-16th Century.

Records from Vienna refer to a horse chestnut in the 1570s, which was noted as originating from the first tree to be grown in Europe – a tree in London, which is understood to have been planted in 1550.

Its common name is attributed to the fact that young trees display a marking similar to a horse’s shoe where the leaf was attached.

Although too bitter for human consumption, they were regarded as a premier feed for livestock.

In the Victorian publication called Gardener’s Chronicle, it listed details of mutton being fed on the trees’ seeds.

It added: ” Geneva mutton is noted for being as highly flavoured as any in England or Wales.”

The terminal buds on each stem are very sticky. It is this coating of gum-like material that protects the leaf inside from the winter cold and frosts.

As the temperature warms with the arrival of spring, the rise in termpaerature breaks down the gummy substance, allowing the protective bud scales to fall to the ground.

Eventually, the resistance of the gum is weakened enough to allow the leaf inside to break through and emerge into the spring air.

Source: The Forest Trees of Britain by Rev C A Johns

Date: 1899

Firm to trial bleeding canker ‘cure’


Arboriculture specialists may have found a cure for bleeding canker in horse chestnut trees, Horticulture Week reports.

It says arboculturalist consultancy Jonathan Cocking Associates (JCA) will trial a newly patented product with English Heritage.

JCA managing director Jonathan Cocking said he was trademarking the product, which kills canker bacterium in trees’ vascular systems.

Plugs of bark are removed around the chestnut, he explains, and a tree infusion is screwed into the holes.

The process takes an hour and after a year the tree refoliates, he adds.

“We are rolling it out with a few high-profile programmes including one with English Heritage.

“The treatment is invasive, but it’s a natural product.

“It’s better to get cracking and save a few trees than run a 10-year study programme only to find at the end of it that all the horse chestnuts have died.”

JCA, based in Halifax, West Yorkshire, has worked with a Dutch firm on the cure and hopes to license the product later in 2009.

Source: Horticulture Week

Date: 16/01/2009

World Conker Championship ‘in doubt’


Bleeding cankers and leaf miner moths are threatening this year’s World Conker Championship, say organisers.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the dual assault on the UK’s horse chestnut trees is leading to a shortage of conkers, which has left the competition’s officials fearing that the event may have to be cancelled for the first time in its history.

The paper says the Forestry Commission estimates that half of the UK’s horse chestnuts are showing symptons of bleeding cankers, while the leaf miner moth affects many southern specimens, primarily in the South-East.

Organisers say they are considering importing conkers from mainland Europe.

Source: Daily Telegraph, UK

Date: 08/08/2008

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