- Species: Chinese Banyan (ficus microcarpa), Indian Rubber Tree (ficus elastica)
- Old and valuable tree of Hong Kong listing: Chinese Banyan AFCHSD CW/41, India Rubber Tree AFCHSD CW/43
- Location: Hong Kong Park, on the main path leading down from Kennedy Road to the main pond
Two members of Hong Kong’s registry of “Old and valuable” trees are in peril inside Hong Kong Park. The two members, an Indian Rubber tree (ficus elastica) and a Chinese Banyan (ficus microcarpa), are located very close together on the hill above the amphitheatre. Both are suffering from ‘brown root rot,’ or BRR, caused by “Phellinus noxius (有害木層孔菌)”, a white simultaneous rot fungus, according to Hong Kong government data here. The disease attacks the roots, which can lead to rapid deterioration and tree failure.
Both trees are being treated with fungicide and are isolated from the public to prevent any further spreading of the disease, which happens when infected debris and soil are transfer to health trees.
What irks me is that, despite the trees being in real peril, the Hong Kong government has decided to renovate the amphitheatre just next to the infected trees. Imagine if you were sick and someone starts to do renovation next door. Not only do I think it will jeopardise the health of the trees, but also risk spreading the disease.
The Indian Rubber tree is a striking example, with multiple thick buttress roots that form an elaborate structure. It is not as grand as some larger members of this species, which can form entire mansions and even mini-cathedrals with their roots, but it is nonetheless a remarkably presence.
Further up the hill, the infected Chinese Banyan offers a less imposing presence, but its tripod of primary limbs reaching up broadly to the sky instills its own grandeur.