24 Jan 2019

Tree facing the axe as Dutch elm disease strikes Auckland again

7:06 pm on 24 January 2019

A tree in the Auckland Domain is getting the axe after specialists confirmed it has been infected with Dutch elm disease.

A tree at the Auckland Domain with Dutch elm disease which will be removed on 29 January 2019.

Photo: Brooke Jenner / RNZ

The fungal disease has been spotted on a large Huntingdon elm tree near the band rotunda in the Auckland Domain.

Dutch elm disease can be difficult to eradicate and the tree must be removed before it infects others in the park.

Auckland Council eco specialist, Simon Cook, said it was heart-breaking to have the disease confirmed on another of Auckland's iconic trees.

In February last year, Dutch elm disease was confirmed on an elm tree outside the Auckland Art Gallery and on a group of elms located within the Symonds Street Cemetery in central Auckland.

"Unfortunately, removal is our only choice and we are committed to doing so safely and respectfully," he said.

"There is another elm about thirty metres away from this infected tree, so we are keeping a close eye on its condition or signs of deterioration."

The tree is scheduled for removal on Tuesday 29 January.

Dutch elm disease

The disease's early symptoms are yellowing and wilting leaves on individual branches, which often turn brown, curl up and eventually drop off as branches die.

It can kill some trees within a year, but others may die over several years.

It is caused by the fungus Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, according to the Auckland Council. It's commonly spread by elm bark beetles carrying fungal spores from tree to tree, however, it can also spread through root grafting.