City to investigate suspected tree poisoning

The tree has damage near the branching part.

Municipal officials are to investigate the suspected poisoning of a yellowwood tree in Meadowridge.

Marg McKay brought the yellowwood sapling from her bigger Constantia property when she moved to Oakridge, in Meadowridge, nine years ago and planted it on her verge.

About one month ago, she noticed the tree was turning brown. Since then, succulents on the inside of her boundary wall have also started dying and the grass is brown and crispy.

City recreation and parks officials visited the property on Monday May 10.

TreeKeepers chairperson Clare Burgess, who studied pictures of the yellowwood, said it looked like the tree had damage to the bark at the base and at a branching section, which she found odd.

“It looks like the grass in the area has been sprayed with Roundup, which kills anything that is sprayed by it. It’s a systemic weedkiller and once in the green living part of the plant, it takes the poison down to the roots and kills them. It looks like the Phormium tenax (New Zealand Flax) plant has also received the same treatment,” she said.

Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community service and health, said the Outeniqua yellowwood (Afrocarpus falcatus) was a protected indigenous species.

“Based on the condition of the tree, there are signs that it is in serious distress and is unlikely to survive. Given the surrounding vegetation also being affected, this gives an early indication of potential poisoning. The matter has been logged and reported to the compliance unit for in-depth investigation and further action,” he said.

“The intentional destruction of trees is illegal and the City views such actions in a serious light and investigates incidents to hold those responsible to account.”

Mr Badroodien said trees were valuable assets that played a vital role in the ecosystem and urban landscape. Apart from their aesthetic value, trees absorbed carbon dioxide, provided a safe habitat for birds and shade for cooling and they could add up to 15% to property values.

Ms McKay said several branches had blown off the tree in the storm on Saturday May 15. She said she was watering the tree liberally in the hope of diluting whatever poison had been used.

Tree vandalism can be reported to, or call the recreation and parks horticultural depot in Heathfield at 021 400 6808.

Several branches blew off the tree during the storm on Saturday May 15.
The tree has damage to the bark at the base.