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A Slow Goodbye To Claret Ash Trees In Canberra

By tylersmayhem 8 January 2009 23

While this topic will be of little interest to some, as a keen gardener I though other “green thumbers” might be interested.

We recently bought a house in the Belconnen area, and one of the many positive aspects of the property were the beautiful mature trees.  The main two are a Red Gum and a Claret Ash.  When I recently had the gum cleaned up by an arborist (EcoTrees, Adam was brilliant), he said while the gum is coping fairly well, the Claret Ash will sadly be gone well within 4 or 5 years.  He explained that it was suffering from dieback from the top down, which is caused by a disease in the tree.  He went on to say that the problem has no cure, and it is sadly a problem happening all across Canberra.

Not long after, I was having a chat to my brilliant neighbour, and he told me about a sick Claret Ash thay once had at a previous property.  Him and a mate spent a day cutting the tree right back to about a third of it’s size and height – so it was pretty much a long stump sticking out of the ground.  While his wife was horrified at the time, they were both stoked a year of so later when it came good and grew back to a healthy tree.

I came across and interesting article on Google (pdf), written by Samantha Titheradge.  It explains a little more about the problem – but I am keen to hear about anyone else’s experiences with this unfortunate problem that is specific to Canberra.

Last weekend I hacked the majority of the tree back,  which was painful to do, and it now looks horrible.  I’m hoping my neighbours luck passes on to us.  I still have about 2 metres of the main trunk to cut back this weekend.  Giving the arms and legs a rest before attempting to hack through the trunk with a bush saw – I don’t have the experience or confidence to operate a chainsaw 6 or so metres up a tree!

Thoughts, experiences, suggestions my fellow RA’ers?

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A Slow Goodbye To Claret Ash Trees In Canberra
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Elf 8:53 am 28 Mar 14

I’m a practicing Horticulturist who mainly looks after Body Corp complexes and large private gardens.

Pretty much when they start to die back it’s time for removal. I have one property which had 18 claret Ashes 10 years ago and we are now down to 12. Surprisingly most have been removed in the last 3 years when the drought ended and the rains came.

The growth you see after they are cut back to stump level is Epicormic growth which can be from the graft which is normally a Desert Ash which will have green leaves all year round or from higher up the stump which will be the Claret variety. Either way this growth is weaker than a normal tree and if you want a true majestic Claret Ash, then it should be removed and another planted. Anyone who gas a Golden Ash will know about Epicormic growth.

The new replacement trees I have planted (all advanced 3 metres plus) have survived (touch wood) and are growing fantastic. This indicates that the disease most likely affects older (20+ years) which have gone through a stressful period. Scale on a healthy tree and subsequent sooty mould is more unsightly than damaging and not the cause of the trees demise.

The Claret Ash was found as a sport off a Desert Ash in South Australia and bred from the one plant. This may have something to do with its fragility.

My advice, remove the tree, buy a new large bare rooted one in July. Plant in large hole with plenty of organic matter added. Water and sit back and enjoy watching it grow over the next 20 years!

imarty 6:50 pm 27 Mar 14

See, this is what I miss about the Riotact, no negative comments having a go at the OP, just support and empathy for a fellow Rioter’s predicament…
I wonder what the current generation of rioters would say about this situation.

BTW I hope your tree survived!

switch 9:40 am 26 Mar 14

Ours slowly succumbed and finally died last year. Very sad to see it go.

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