Fusarium in Palms

Fusarium in Palms
Fusarium in Palms
Over the past few years, the Phoenix palms along Fifth and Eighth Avenues in Campsie have been affected by a fatal fungus, Fusarium oxysporum. Over the past few years, the Phoenix palms along Fifth and Eighth Avenues in Campsie have been affected by a fatal fungus, Fusarium oxysporum.  
Fusarium in Palms

Over the past few years, the Phoenix palms along Fifth and Eighth Avenues in Campsie have been affected by a fatal fungus, Fusarium oxysporum. 
The disease that results from this fungus, Fusarium Wilt, has already killed some of these palms and others are diseased. The disease moves through the soil and cannot be stopped. We could potentially lose all our Phoenix palms in these streets. 

Next steps

We have been actively managing Fusarium infections in our palms for almost 15 years. Unfortunately we have now reached the stage when we will need to remove dead palms for community safety. At the same time, we will conduct testing on other palms in the area.
We are committed to maintaining our beautiful streetscape and are committed to tree replacement. The remaining pathogen in the soil poses a threat to new palms of the same species, so we're exploring alternative species to ensure the long-term health of our urban forest.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did the Fusarium Wilt get into the palms? 

Fusarium wilt is spread by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum. It can be spread by contaminated soil movement, undisinfected pruning tools, contaminated vegetation and seed movement between places by animals, birds and humans, and through the growth in the soil. Fusarium favors moist environments and the increase in recent rainfall due to the La Nina may have accelerated the spread to new palms.

How do you identify what palms have Fusarium?

It is likely that all palms in these streets are hosting the pathogen and we are conducting further testing to confirm this. When palms begin to show symptoms, it is generally a dying back of the lower fronds, with the leaflets on one side of the frond dying before the other side. Not all dead fronds on a palm are a result of Fusarium, but when they die away along one side then the other side it’s a good indication that palm is now in its end stages.

Can you look after the palms and will they come back?

No. Scientific testing  has shown that Fusarium will kill a palm once it is infected. The time from initial infection to the loss of the palm varies depending on the health of the palm. The disease affects the plant’s vascular system and blocks the flow of nutrients and water between the parts of the plant. 

What will you replace the palms with?

Given the heritage listing of these streets, we are obligated to maintain the aesthetic of the streetscape with like-for-like species. However, due to the presence of Fusarium in the soil, replanting Phoenix palms is not practical as they may succumb to the same pathogen. We are researching alternative species and considering new streetscape designs that align with the heritage listing. We won't proceed with replacement palm planting until these considerations are finalised. To maintain our 3-for-1 replacement standard, some new trees may planted in areas close to these streets. 

Does Fusarium Wilt affect other trees and plants? 

Yes, in trees it has been shown to infect Phoenix Canariensis (Phoenix palms) and Washingtonia filifera (Desert Fan palms) and Syagrus romanzoffiana (Cocus palms), citrus and avocado. In plants it is known to infect some melon species, tomatoes and bananas among others. Fusarium fungus is extremely common and there are a number of different species that  infect many different plants. 

How can we stop the spread of Fusarium? 

We are unable to stop Fusarium spreading in the soil. There is little to no risk to people – this pathogen has likely been present in the soil for many years and will live on for many years. 

Can I help?

Yes, if you have any plants in your garden that appear to be affected by Fusarium Wilt, you should remove the plants and roots and dispose of it all in your red bin. Green bins are used to make compost, so that the material may be recovered and used elsewhere. Contaminated plant material shouldn’t be used for this purpose. Your local nursery should be able to assist in diagnosing any diseased plants. When replanting, consider a different species of plant that will be more resistant to Fusarium.

The City of Canterbury Bankstown acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land, water and skies of Canterbury-Bankstown, the Darug (Darag, Dharug, Daruk, Dharuk) People. We recognise and respect Darug cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge the First Peoples’ continuing importance to our CBCity community.