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Extinguish The Flame Trees

By Duncan Horscroft on March 3, 2015 in News

Photo: Daniel Hutton

Photo: Daniel Hutton

It was about 11am on a recent Wednesday morning when a loud crash echoed through Bronte Gully. Another coral tree had disassociated itself from the noxious family tree.

There have been many instances in the past when these feral imposters have smashed to the ground throughout the gully, but this time it fell across the well-used path.

The branch was as big as a small tree and fortunately there was no pedestrian traffic in the immediate vicinity, as it could have caused serious injury or possibly death.

So why does the council allow its parklands to be infested with trees that are non-native and have a reputation of crashing down without any warning whatsoever, when they are so intent on cracking down on residents who remove trees from their own backyards?

The local volunteer bushcare volunteers have done an amazing job of restoring the gully and, along with the local park workers, have worked tirelessly to introduce native trees to the area.

Even though some of the coral trees have been removed from some areas, dozens of these intruders still remain, lining the stormwater drain and the fringes of the walkway.

According to the Sydney Weeds Committee, the coral tree has “very brittle” branches that are shed when it’s windy – and it’s not very often that the wind doesn’t blow through the gully.

Growing these trees alongside a waterway is fraught with danger and could explain a lot of the problems the council has had with its stormwater irrigation system, which recycles the water for use in the park.

The coral tree has a “substantial tap and lateral root system capable of invading plumbing pipes”, according to Sydney Weeds. Worse still, “(Trees) will sucker from root fragments left in the ground (and) branches should not be left on the ground as they can re-grow into new plants”.

More often than not, when the fallen branches have been cleared, there are small fragments left lying underneath the adult trees and new shoots can be seen protruding from these within a matter of weeks.

“The vegetation is spread by water and humans via garden refuse dumping. It is so easy to grow even woodchips can take root,” Sydney Weeds said.

“(The coral tree) grows readily from fallen branches and should not be used as mulch. (It) has the potential to invade natural areas such as rainforests, wetlands, creeks and salt marshes.”

Also known as flame trees, the coral trees were planted in Bronte Gully to cover an area that was once used a dumping ground for landfill when Grace Bros at Bondi Junction was built in 1939. They provided good ground cover, attracted birdlife and quickly adapted to an area that was not trafficked by humans.

But times have changed and Bronte Gully is now a major thoroughfare, and it’s only a matter of time before somebody gets hurt.