Caring for our pines
Fact sheet

South West Rocks Norfolk Island Pines

  • There are approximately 75 Norfolk Island Pines in South West Rocks. These large and significant trees are an iconic feature within the township, especially around Horseshoe Bay and the CBD. Many of the trees are around 80 years old.
  • During a visual inspection in March 2018, Council’s arborist noted that several trees were showing varying signs of decline, including thin canopies, open wounds, retained deadwood, delaminated bark and declining branch tips.
  • Independent testing by the Royal Botanic Garden in May 2018 confirmed that at least one Norfolk Island Pine tree in South West Rocks is affected by a fungal pathogen commonly known as Norfolk Pine Canker.

Management Plan

  • Following confirmation of the presence of the pathogen, Council immediately put a management plan in place and began taking steps to care for the pines.
  • To ensure the safety of the community and minimise the impact and spread of the disease it is necessary to remove one tree, carry out significant pruning and maintenance of five trees, and remove dead wood from additional trees.
  • The tree to be removed is located on the corner of Livingstone Street and Prince of Wales Avenue opposite the surf shop. This tree has declined rapidly, with the first signs of bark delamination noted in late January 2018. It shows the most advanced progression of the disease and is in close proximity to businesses, areas of high traffic and pedestrian activity, a parking area and a power pole. This tree will be replaced with a 3-metre-tall pine.
  • All efforts are being made to allow the remaining trees believed to be affected the best possible chance at rejuvenation and being retained. The retained trees will be closely monitored and ongoing maintenance will involve removal of diseased matter, application of water-based feed and slow release fertiliser and limiting compaction.
  • Special care is being taken during the tree maintenance works to minimise the risk of cross-contamination and to preserve the health of the remaining trees.
  • Road closures in the South West Rocks CBD will be necessary from 6:30am Wednesday 29 August to enable arborists to carry out the removal, pruning and deadwooding using a crane and specialist equipment.

Norfolk Pine Canker (Neofusicoccum parvum)

  • Norfolk Pine Canker is a fast-acting fungal pathogen that has been known to kill the host tree in as little as two years. There is currently no chemical control available.
  • The fungus (Neofusicoccum parvum) has recently been implicated in the decline of Norfolk Island Pines (Araucaria heterophylla) in Sydney. This disease has also been observed throughout NSW, Australia and New Zealand.
  • The signs and symptoms include die-back, typically from the top of the canopy but not always, sparse canopy and gummosis (excess gum production).
  • Depending on the advancement of the canker, and if the affected tree can be successfully pruned below the disease front, a program of watering and fertilisation (seaweed-based fertiliser and high potassium) to improve growing conditions may assist.
  • Neofusicoccum parvum are common endophytes that usually have a symbiotic relationship with the host tree. It is unclear what triggers the switch from endophyte to pathogen, but it is suspected there is a link to environmental conditions that put the host tree under stress, such as extreme heat, drought or mechanical injury.
  • The pathogen can spread easily to surrounding healthy trees. To prevent this, appropriate work practices must be in place when undertaking maintenance work of trees affected by the Neofusicoccum parvum pathogen.

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Pines at South West Rocks
Pines at South West Rocks