Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

A scourge plagues Whyte Ridge’s chokecherries

  • Print

You’ve seen them along Scurfield Boulevard, Columbia Drive and other residential streets in Whyte Ridge: the tarry black blobs attached to ‘prunus virginiana’ or, more commonly, Schubert chokecherry. 

They weigh down the slender branches, looking like charred hot dogs on a campfire stick.

As new housing developments sprung up during the 1980s and 1990s, this variety of ‘prunus’ was the go-to tree for boulevards and property lines. The Schubert was relatively quick growing, they gave spring blossom, had interesting leaf colour — green changing to dark purple — and provided a good summer canopy.  But they were monocultures, ripe for disease.

The fungus, Apiosporina morbosa, disperses spores in the spring through wind, wet weather and birds. By the next season, black galls or knots have formed and, if not treated, will continue this process both internally and externally, blocking the path of tree nourishment. 

In the case of a single affected tree, pruning out the affected branch at least a foot above the gall may have the desired effect. But when the disease is rampant in trees standing side by side, as in Whyte Ridge, it is virtually impossible to control.  Despite annual pruning efforts to keep the disease in check, I’ve lost the battle with my boulevard tree. Restricted and weakened by the galls, the tree has become susceptible to other diseases and insects. It is now starting to die. Others in the area are already dead.

In hindsight, we shouldn’t have taken it upon ourselves to prune our chokecherry.  Only trees planted by the property owner are allowed to be pruned or removed. Martha Barwinsky, the city forester, stated that the City of Winnipeg has concise guidelines for the processes to be followed in regards to trees on their property. This information can be found at http://winnipeg.ca/publicworks/Forestry/Homeowner_Tree_Maintenance_Guidelines.asp

The positive news is that there is a Winnipeg Urban Forest succession plan. Barwinsky says the diseased and dying trees will be removed and replaced with more desirable specimens. Rather than a monoculture, the strategy now is to have no more than 30% of one variety of tree in a given area, creating a more diverse urban canopy and ensuring the health of individual trees. The timeline for replacement is undetermined.

If your Schubert chokecherry is struggling, call the Urban Forest Department (through the 311 line) and voice your concern. The squeaky wheel may get some grease and we may get some new trees.


Pat Kelly is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Fall Arts Guide

We preview what’s new and what’s coming up in Winnipeg’s new arts season

View our Fall Arts Guide

Readers' Choice Awards

Best Of Winnipeg Readers Survey

See the results of the 2014 Canstar Community News Best of Winnipeg Readers' Survey.

View Results

This Just In Twitter bird

Poll

Northwest Winnipeg may be getting a new subdivision with homes for 5,400 people. Do you think it’s a good idea?

View Results