Some Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick plants (corylus avellana contorta) are being attacked and are dying slowly.
This doesn’t seem to be a widespread problem, but it is happening. The disease that is attacking them is called Eastern Filbert Blight, which is a fungal type disease and not an insect problem. If you have a plant that is showing signs of being infected it’s probably too late to apply a fungicide, but if you prune away infected wood you might be able to slow the progression of the disease and if you catch it early enough you might be able to stop it completely.
Harry Lauder’s is a very interesting and curious looking plant and an all time favorite plant among true plant lovers. I am a huge fan of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick and I like to grow them into single stem trees and I made a movie about that.
Here are some photos of a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick that has been infected with the Eastern Filbert Blight. You can see how devastating this is.
I took the above photo right in the middle of the growing season, so you can see that this plant is not at all healthy. It should be covered with the crazy looking leaves that Harry Lauder’s is noted for, instead it has only a few healthy leaves near the bottom of the plant.
If you look closely at the above photo you can see the little tiny diamond shaped, or football shaped black dots on the stem. Those are cankers from the Eastern Filbert Blight. For whatever reason, these cankers are almost always diamond shaped or football shaped. On a healthy Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick you won’t see any spots like these at all.
If your plant has this condition you need to prune out any infected wood, and make sure you cut all the way back into healthy wood that is not infected. Sterilize your pruners after each cut by dipping them in rubbing alcohol. Don’t be concerned about how much wood you cut away. Harry Lauder’s are vigorous growers and if you can save your plant it will recover quickly.
Now for the positive news about this dreaded disease. At this time it does not appear to be widespread and I have a lot of these plants in my nursery, because they are like magnets for plant lovers. People will drive miles and miles to buy a nice Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick. And you are a member of our group you can buy small plants for around $4.00 each. And in most garden centers a Harry Lauder’s in only a 2 gallon container is going to be $59.00 or more.