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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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    Fig tree to be removed in interests of public safety

    A much-loved fig tree in Edge Hill will be removed next month after an experimental treatment to combat a deadly fungus failed. 

    In 2019, the presence of brown root rot fungus (Pyrrhoderma noxium) was first noted in the Brown Walnut tree and the Weeping Fig on the corner of on the corner of Collins Ave and McCormack St, Edge Hill.

    Despite years of treatment, the Brown Walnut tree died last year as a result of the infection, and now Council has made the difficult decision to remove the tree in the interests of public safety and to protect the Botanic Gardens.

    Following the initial discovery of the brown root rot fungus, Council explored avenues to treat the infection, rather than procced with removal of the trees.

    In January 2020, Council started an experimental treatment using another fungus (Trichoderma harzianum) to combat the brown root rot fungus.

    Worryingly, a secondary damaging fungal infection (Novisporus floccosus) was detected in the fig tree in May 2021.

    “Unfortunately, the treatment has ultimately been unsuccessful,” Mayor Bob Manning said.

    “The tree’s health has continued to deteriorate and just last month a large branch fell onto the footpath and road.

    “This is a particularly busy area and in the interests of public safety, we have no other choice than to remove the tree, which has been part of the Edge Hill community for decades.

    “I can assure the community that following removal of the fig and treatment of the soil, a tree will be planted in the same area.”

    The Weeping Fig is scheduled for removal the week commencing 11 April.

    Treatment of the surrounding area for brown root fungus, which could include excavation of soil, will occur immediately after the tree’s removal to prevent the spread of the fungus and protect nearby plants in the Botanic Gardens.

    Once testing determines the soil has been decontaminated a new tree will be planted, which is expected to be before the end of the year.   

    In recognition of the connection the community has with the tree, residents are being invited to record their memories and post farewell messages.

    Division 7 Councillor Max O’Halloran described the impending removal of the tree as “a sad loss” for the area.

    “I understand that this is a much-loved tree; it has been part of the lives of the Edge Hill community for many, many years,” Cr O’Halloran said.

    “As well as the risks to the public, if we don’t take action, the fungal infection could spread to our special plants and trees in the Botanic Gardens.

    “In recognition of the significance of this tree, residents are welcome to share memories, drawings, photographs or simply write a message about the tree and its impact on their lives, their families and their community.

    “In this simple way, the tree’s importance to the community can be captured for future generations.”

    Residents can leave messages, drawing and photos in a letterbox at the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, or email them to feedback@cairns.qld.gov.au.



    March 2019: Brown root rot fungus (Pyrrhoderma noxium) detected on the Brown Walnut tree and Weeping Fig located on the corner of Collins Ave and McCormack St, Edge Hill.

    22 January 2020: Council begins experimental treatment using another fungus (Trichoderma harzianum) to combat brown root rot fungus.

    15 May 2020: Secondary damaging fungal infection (Novisporus floccosus) detected in the Weeping Fig.

    14 June 2021: Brown Walnut dies from the effects of brown root rot.

    2 February 2022: A large branch fell from the fig and as a result Council conducted a deadwood inspection and pruning exercise, at which point several other dead and damaged branches were removed.


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