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Foreign Fungus Wiping Out European Trees November 4, 2011
Canal du Medi
Some trees lining France's 300-year-old Canal du Midi are being felled to stop an advancing fungus brought to Europe by U.S. troops in World War II.
A fungus carried to Europe by U.S. soldiers during World War II is killing trees across an ever expanding swath of the continent.

The culprit is the deadly fungus, Ceratocystis platani, for which there is no known cure.

The fungus is mainly benign to arboreal species in its native habitat across the eastern United States.

But it has killed an untold number of trees while spreading across Switzerland, Greece, Germany and France over the past six decades.

Once a tree becomes infected, tree pathologists say the only thing they can do is cut it down and burn the entire tree on the spot.

The latest battlefield to hold back the advance of the invasive species is the Canal du Midi, which has already seen 1,000 of the 42,000 plane trees that line its banks felled and burned last year.

Officials say that because the disease can spread through the root system, any other plane tree in a radius of 160 feet of an infected tree must be felled and burned on site, even if it is apparently healthy.

They are being replaced with disease-resistant trees native to Mississippi.

Photo: File