Fungus, plus visible rot & borer damage in this branch of the fig tree in Petersham Park.

Fungus, plus visible rot & borer damage in this branch of the fig tree in Petersham Park.

When in Petersham Park recently to see the Coral tree up for removal I saw a couple of very old Post Jackson Fig trees in a very sorry state.  The one that really concerns me has visible areas of boring insect damage in a couple of its branches with two areas of fungus growing.

In my experience the presence of fungal fruiting bodies of any kind means that Council removes the tree.

I looked up the Petersham Park Masterplan & these trees were not listed for removal.  I also looked at the list of proposed trees for removal in Petersham & no trees in any Petersham park were included.

I am not even sure whether Council had any park trees included in the recent Tree Inventory.  I hope they were assessed & that this information becomes available to the community.

The Fig trees in Petersham Park, unlike those in Enmore Park, are not included in Marrickville Council’s list of heritage trees.  In my eyes this is a shame as Petersham Park is recognised as an historic park, the trees are old & surely there would be some that could fit the criteria for heritage protection.

Looking at the borer damage, rot & fungus on this tree I wondered what, if anything, Marrickville Council was doing for this tree.  It doesn’t require a qualification in tree management to see that removing the affected branches would 1.  remove any danger of these branches falling, 2. remove the areas of possible infestation & possibly catch the rot & borers before they infect the rest of the tree, particularly the trunk, 3. help the tree.

It may be that the rot has affected the trunk – or it may be that just a couple of branches are affected.  Council won’t know until they have the tree professionally assessed.  Surely intervention by a Veteran Tree Specialist is better than doing nothing until the tree is so far gone that it needs to be removed.

Maybe they have, though when I last spoke to one of Council’s Tree Managers, he said something along the line of – Council doesn’t have the time to give this kind of care to trees.

This tree reminds me of the boring insects that are working their way along many of the trees alongside the Cooks River.  When one Poplar dropped a branch a couple of years ago because of boring insect damage, the branch was removed, but nothing was done to help the tree.  The remainder of the branch has been left as a jagged mess when it could have been pruned to minimize the risk of decay agents & remaining boring insects entering the wound & the trunk.

I guess it depends on how important mature & old trees are considered.  Three of the heritage listed Canary Island palms along Carrington Road in Marrickville South have died in the last 3-years.  You could see them struggle during the long drought. The grand Hill’s Figs one block up that were once a major beauty in the area have had the roadside branches removed over the last 2-3 years leaving lob-sided trees with ‘risky’ epicormic growth.  Too late now for the aerial bundled cabling used to remove the need for such radical pruning.

The Hill’s Fig trees in Renwick Street just around the corner are also struggling, but has anything been done to help these trees?  Instead it looks like a couple of Lilly Pillies have been planted for succession planting.  Two to three years ago these Figs were in peak condition.

Does it matter?  I think it does.  The community generally loves older, or big or historic trees.  They link us to our past.  They act as landmarks.  They are often awe-inspiring & they are often beautiful.  Even when they are not as beautiful as they once were, they still attract our attention & often our admiration.

Of course there are those who don’t even really notice trees, see them as pests & would not understand how one could find a tree awe-inspiring, but there are plenty who feel like I do.  I’ve noticed that as the community changes in our municipality there are more people who think like me.

Trees can make a neighbourhood.  They can be fantastic or they can barely make an impact on the streetscape.  I know that many in the community consider all the trees that I have mentioned as special. It would be a crying shame to ignore them until it is too late.

Another type of fungus growing on another branch of the same tree in Petersham Park.  Borer damage & rot is also visible on this branch.

Another type of fungus growing on another branch of the same tree in Petersham Park. Borer damage & rot is also visible on this branch, while other branches appear unaffected.