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Historic pohutukawa dying on waterfront and Memorial Drive

Flagstaff Team

Stricken trees… on Memorial Drive (above) and on King Edward Parade (below).

Landmark pohutukawa are sickening and dying around Devonport.

Some trees on the waterfront along King Edward Pde have dead branches and yellow leaves. And a historic tree on Memorial Drive has died.

Devonport resident Gretchen Leach spotted the dead branches, limbs and yellow leaves on several trees along King Edward Pde on a 5 May walk and called the Department of Conservation, Auckland Council and the Flagstaff.

“Some of the branches have died. I don’t know whether it’s the dreaded myrtle rust,” Leach said.

A week later, the council’s arborists were yet to check the trees, but a visit was planned for this week.

PestFree Devonport’s Lance Cablk thought the council’s response seemed slow.

Cablk said it was unlikely to be myrtle rust, as its distinctive yellow patches are usually fairly obvious. “That doesn’t mean it isn’t serious,” he said.

“If it’s one tree, it could be a random disease.”

“Trees have a way of warding disease off. They can get a disease in part of the tree and it cuts off that branch, so it is isolated.”

However, with myrtle rust, the pohutukawa has no way of isolating it and it travels through the whole tree and kills it.

The deadly disease could arrive at any time and it is important residents look out for it, he added.

RSA member Fred Wilson recalls planting a pohutukawa tree along Memorial Drive, as a child in 1951 or 1952. The Devonport Borough Council organised for the trees to be planted in memory of World War II soldiers.

Wilson said it’s likely the afflicted pohutukawa, which is near Ngataringa Bay, died as a result of flooding.

The plaque beneath the dead tree honours Noel Whitmarsh Hawkins.

This article originally appeared in the May 17 edition of The Devonport Flagstaff. Download PDF.