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Knoxville – Hope may be fading for the future survival of dogwood trees deep within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

A survey of the supply of dogwood trees in the national park shows they’ve almost disappeared from several areas.

University of Tennessee researcher Mark Windham said the fungal disease ‘dogwood anthracnose’ is to blame.

“The fungus prefers a cool, moist environment,” Windham said. “The trees that are found in the Appalachians are in an area that-s very conducive to disease development, because it-s cooler and shadier.”

Windham said the anthracnose fungus is rarely seen in ornamental dogwoods planted in the open.

Location also has a great deal to do with how vulnerable the dogwoods are, Windham said.

“If you move west toward Nashville, the disease is not normally found, because it-s too hot,” Windham said. “If you go south to Atlanta and Birmingham, you find the same thing.”

Windham and a team of UT researchers have come up with a variety of dogwood that is resistant to anthracnose.

That variety, Appalachian Spring, should be available at tree nurseries this fall.