Horse chestnuts in Britain have been infected by a new disease, according to a new Forestry Commission study. Forty-nine per cent of horse chestnuts carry symptoms of the bleeding canker disease.

Bleeding canker disease is a bacteria that attacks the horse chestnut bark, causing running sores and weakening branches.

Horse chestnut trees that do survive an initial assault may have to be felled for public safety.

Horse chestnuts were introduced from the Balkans in the 16th century, and there are now one million of them in Britain and many are found in woodlands like that in the picture.

English Heritage has commissioned a report into the feasibility of propagating resistant varieties, although 49 per cent of horse chestnuts in Britain have already been infected by the bleeding canker disease.

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