You may have noticed recently that palms in Cronulla are looking unwell, and some have been removed.
This is because they have a fungal disease called Fusarium wilt. Unfortunately this disease is terminal and it spreads causing the infection in other palms.
We are managing the health of palms in the area, however this does mean you will see more palms being removed.
Palms will be replaced with trees that are not susceptible to the disease and we will ensure Cronulla stays green.
What is Fusarium wilt?
Fusarium wilt is a soil born pathogen known as ‘Fusarium oxysporum’. It causes a fungal disease in a select group of palms, including Canary Island Date Palms (‘Pheonix canariensis’). The disease starts in the soil and is commonly spread by birds or possums travelling from palm to palm carrying contaminated tissue. It is highly contagious and near impossible to manage.
How can we detect and diagnose it?
Most of the time detection and diagnosis of the disease is made when signs of it become visually evident on the palm itself.
Symptoms of the disease include:
- leaflets becoming yellow and die off on one side
- leaflets die up until the leaf tip leaving only a few green leafs.
How can it be treated?
Fusarium wilt is unfortunately a terminal disease for Palms like the Canary Island Date Palms with no known cure. The best way to combat the disease is to take a proactive approach to stop the spread by removing diseased palms and other palms which are susceptible to the disease. Replacing diseased palms with a diverse range of trees provides greater protection to trees from pathogen attacks in the future.
What is Council doing to manage palm health?
Council has been working for a number of years to address this disease in local palms and contain the spread. Council is managing palm health in the Cronulla area and ensuring a green canopy remains. As there is no remedy for the disease, management requires a proactive approach which means removing diseased palms and others which are susceptible. Some palms have already been removed in the area due to the disease. Palms will continue to be removed as required and where work is underway and palms are in poor health. Council will replace palms with more suitable trees that are not susceptible to the disease.
What trees will replace palms in Cronulla?
Palms will be replaced with new, more suitable trees. In some cases this will be Cook Pines, however a variety of species will be considered.
The Cook Pine is an established feature of the local landscape that can be seen thriving in Cronulla and Dunningham Parks. The tree's height and its distinctive shape make the Cook Pine a great choice for a natural landmark. In addition, the Cook Pine is a particularly resilient species that is tolerant of the sea air and is not susceptible to Fusarium wilt.
The Cook Pines were selected following expert advice due to their suitability for the local environment. They are suitable because they create an avenue effect and ideal for restricted spaces, such as being next to a main road.
Has this occurred anywhere else in Sydney?
Yes, Fusarium wilt affects certain palms all across Sydney including the Canary Island Date Palm. Centennial Park has been replacing the Canary Island Date Palm as they were decimated by fusarium wilt across Sydney in the 1980s. The same approach has been taken, to replace palms with more suitable species that are not susceptible to Fusarium wilt.