Residents Need To Be Aware To Save Our Trees

An infected tree. Image source:

According to Eckards Garden Pavilion in Bedfordview, over the next year or two, we will see a vast number of trees die as a result of the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer Beetles, referred to as PSHB.

By now, many have heard of the PSHB that is affecting the trees. South Africa is the largest infestation geographically in the world. The infestation is believed to be brought into the country in wooden pallets and spread by the distribution of infected firewood. Now millions of trees are projected to die.

The short version is that there is no known and or registered cure to save our trees. Infected trees need to be managed and removed responsibly and not sold off as firewood. At the moment Horticulturalists and Arborists are all trying to find solutions but as yet to no avail.

Central Bedfordview and Elma Park are hot spots. Even in Kensington, trees are going down very quickly. It’s hard to imagine what Dunvegan Avenue will look like without its trees down the middle island or how Bedfordview will look when the Pin Oaks go down in Van Buuren Road or when Oriel Park becomes just a lawned park with no trees, but it is an eventual reality we will all have to face if we don’t manage the situation. There are already roads in Kensington that have lost more than half their trees in the street.

There are host trees and reproductive trees preferred by the PSHB and the list includes indigenous as well as exotic trees. Trees under stress and that are not healthy lose the battle sooner than trees that are looked after.

Do not buy or bring firewood into your property if you don’t know the origin. When the small town in Parys got infected by someone taking firewood in from Johannesburg, people were alarmed. When you hear that around camp sites in the national parks, indigenous trees are affected from firewood taken in by campers, we should be more than alarmed. When the Acacias and the Combretum in the parks go what will the giraffes and the elephants eat?

Bear in mind when the tree feller operating from the side of the road cuts down an infected tree and throws it on the back of a bakkie and drives off, your yard may be responsible for all the beetles bouncing off the bakkie as it moves through the suburb and to its final destination where it rarely is disposed of correctly. Or else it is cut up into firewood and sold back into the neighbourhood neatly cut and stacked on the side of the road in bundles.

We worry about whether our water is safe to drink and make a plan if we’re not sure. But just as importantly, we need air that is cleaner to breathe. There is an interesting article on ‘Streets without trees are dangerous’ which reminds us that when we don’t have street trees cleaning the city air we breathe, the air quality goes down and a host of illnesses will follow. For now we should all plant replacement trees with a few to spare as fast as we can for the next generation.

Knowing the facts is what is the most important. A good online PSHB resource can be found at:

According to this website, The Tree Survey mobile app allows you to report infestations. Each reported incident receives in-app feedback. You can just report the bug, or you can select a further action from either a City Parks official or a private service provider. Apple users can download it here, and Android users can get it here.

According to this site, indigenous trees that have been identified as ‘Reproductive Hosts’ include:

– Fever (Acacia zanthophloea).
– Flat crown (Albizia adianthifolia).
– Coast coral (Erythrina caffra).
– Common coral (Erythrina lysistemon).
– Natal fig (Ficus natalensis).
– Wild plum (Harpephyllum caffrum).
– Pigeonwood (Trema orientalis).
– Paper bark thorn (Vachellia sieberiana var. woodi).
– Wild frangipani (Voacanga thouarsii).

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Eckards (+27 11) 453 8573