Heritage Norfolk pine days are numbered

A Norfolk pine in North Wollongong has to be cut down due to a deadly tree virus. Council’s Craig Blamire stands near the tree. Picture: GREG TOTMANNorth Wollongong is to lose one of its heritage-listed Norfolk Island pine trees, after tests revealed it is dying from a contagious pathogen.Tissue samples collected from the 24m-high tree have indicated it is dying from a Botryosphaeria strain thought to be affecting a number of other tree species along the NSW coast.Wollongong City Council said the sick tree, believed to be about 80 years old, posed a risk to other Norfolk Island pines along the foreshore.City works area manager Rosemary Crowhurst said dead limbs from the tree were a hazard to passers-by.”We noticed that it was starting to decay 12 months ago so we had some forensic investigations sent away to an arborist company to test the soil and the tree,” she said.”It came back with a pathogen that we couldn’t fight in this particular tree, it’s too far gone.”The section of trees is located in Galvin Park, about 50m north of the North Wollongong surf club.Council believes the nearby section of the iconic trees, which span the entire Blue Mile precinct, may also carry the pathogen, however early detection means they will be salvaged.In the last three years, at least 20 Illawarra trees have been diagnosed with the Botryosphaeria strain.The fungal disease can kill a healthy tree within 12 to 18 months.Council will begin lopping small sections of the tree today, before remediating the affected soil and planting a replacement Norfolk pine in the coming months.”The virus kills the tree from the top down and it will soon spread to the other trees, Mrs Crowhurst said.”We really have no other choice but to cut it down.”We think these are significant trees so we want the community to take ownership of the new addition and report anyone vandalising or damaging it.”
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