AN OXFORDSHIRE Christmas tree grower has rubbished reports that a fungus presents a threat to the traditional fir tree.

Andrew Ingram, who runs The Tree Barn at Christmas Common near Watlington and is a committee member of the British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association, said he was not concerned about Sydowia polyspora, which causes Nordmann firs to lose their needles.

He said: “The fungus has been around for at least as long as I have been growing Christmas trees which is more than 20 years. It does not kill the tree. It affects this year’s needles but next year’s might be fine.

“It might be a problem if you lose five or 10 per cent of your crop in a year but very rarely do the numbers come up to that level and we are not experiencing anything near that level here. I am not losing sleep over it.”

Britain produces up to four million Christmas trees a year, with the rest being imported from abroad.

Earlier this month Oxfordshire had its first case of Ash dieback, a fungus which has seen the destruction of up to 90 per cent of Denmark’s ash trees.