Advice on how to take and package samples

Try not to sample in the rain – but if samples are wet, pack in kitchen towel

All specimens: Send enough specimens to show all stages of the disorder, from apparently healthy to severely damaged tissue. Pack and send soon after collection ensuring that the specimens are not wet and that no moisture has been added.  Despatch early in the week.

Small seedlings: Handle very gently to avoid damage during lifting and packing (in the case of JPP’s etc, leave in the containers).  Pack in a polythene bag and in a rigid container to prevent crushing.

Small trees: If trees are small enough, dig them up, gently shake off loose soil (retaining it as a specimen if required) and send the whole tree.  Cut it into sections if this aids packing.

Root, stem and branch specimens: Include the junction between live and dead bark tissue where possible.  If alive, the inner bark is whitish or pinkish when cut into with the point of a knife; if dead, it is brownish or blackish.  Delicate material on bark should not be scraped off but sampled by paring off a thin piece of bark or, if the bark is dead or too hard, by chiselling a section out.

Soil specimens: Take small samples of soil from near roots and stems at scattered points at various depths around affected trees to make, in total, at least a cupful.  Pack in a sealed polythene bag.

Foliage, woody material and hard fungal fruit-bodies: Pack separately in sealed polythene bags.  If leaf fall is the problem, send some fallen leaves together with some twigs with affected leaves still attached.  Cut samples of decayed wood to include the zone between decayed and sound wood.
 

  • Include adjacent twigs and branches as source of problem may be lower down!
  • If lesions are present, ensure you sample 2-5cm in to healthy tissue
  • Include all stages of symptoms if possible

 
Fleshy fungal fruit-bodes: Send in dry packing material in a stout cardboard box.  Please do not use polythene bag since these specimens will putrify quickly.

Insects: Send insects, mites etc, in rigid, escape-proof containers with a small amount of soft tissue paper as packing.  Ensure that tops are taped on.

 


 Labelling your samples

Use a zip lock bag/box clearly labelled with:

  • Your name
  • Site name
  • Grid reference (2 letters then 10 numbers)
  • Host details
  • Date of sampling
  • Unique identifier (I.E. enquiry/TreeAlert ref no)

Do not let samples get hot (in warm weather keep in a cooler bag or similar) and post on the same day (and preferably not on a Friday so sample does not linger in the post).