Why the Judas tree died

We’ve had Cercis siliquastrum or Judas treeto take out a majestic Cercis siliquastrum tree in the garden of a client. It’s commonly known as the Judas tree, because of a myth that it was the tree from which Judas Iscariot hanged himself after betraying Jesus. But that’s just a theory. Others say that the name comes from the French common name, Arbre de Judee, meaning Judea, which seems sensible, as it tallies with the tree’s origins in the East Mediterranean. It’s a fantastic garden tree; pretty leaves, gorgeous spring flowers, autumn colour. One that’s not used enough.

I’d never Ganoderma applanatum, the offending fungusseen one as big as this, neither had our tree surgeon nor the tree officer from the council who was to authorise its removal. Normally they live between 25-45 years but the trunk of this one was about 50cm in diameter, so we think it could have been older. It had been invaded by a killer fungus called Ganoderma applanatum, or Ganoderma Butt Rott, a huge, woody mushroom that attaches itself to a wound in the tree and slowly rots the wood from the inside.

Although the tree had been sick for a couple of years and had suffered remedial amputations, this spring the glorious swags of Barbie-blush, pea-like flowers that usually hang from bare branches like ribbons on a party dress were reduced to a few tatty trinkets. It wasn’t going to stagger on and when we felled it, it was rotten to the core.

We will plant another tree in its place. I’ll report back.

Comments are closed.