Esca (grape disease)

Esca disease is caused by several fungi which attacks the wood of grapevine. Its name is believed to come from the fact that, in the past, the infected wood was used as “tinder” to kindle fires because its spongy texture made it very good touchwood.

References to esca-like symptoms are found in several ancient Greek and Latin works. Cato the Elder in De Agri Cultura and Pliny the Elder in Naturalis Historia wrote about it. Greater descriptive accuracy is found in medieval works such as the Kitab al-Felahah by Ibn al-Awam, a Spanish Muslim who lived in Seville at the end of the twelfth century, and the Opus Ruralium Commodorum by Pietro de’ Crescenzi, born around 1233 in Bologna. But researches on its etiology, biology, and epidemiology started only at the end of the nineteenth century.

Esca disease has become increasingly devastating during the past three decades and represents today a major concern in all wine-producing countries.

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