Donated tree fails to weather HK climate

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 June, 2011, 12:00am


A 400-year-old jujube tree officially donated by a mainland province to Hong Kong has died after failing to adjust to the city's subtropical weather for the past eight years.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department removed the listed tree from Hong Kong Park yesterday. It was found to have abnormal defoliation and its bark had been peeling since September, the department said. Its branches withered after the winter. Despite remedial measures, including the trimming of dead branches and the use of fungicide and insecticide, the tree did not survive.

The department said staff had been taking care of the tree since a city government in Henan donated it to Hong Kong in 2003 and the tree was transplanted to the park.

It was placed on the register of old and valuable trees due to its age and rarity. With its death, there is only one jujube tree remaining in the park, which was also part of the 2003 donation.

Professor Jim Chi-yung, a tree expert at the University of Hong Kong, said the long-distance transplantation from a temperate area to a subtropical one had doomed the tree. 'The jujube tree is a temperate species and doesn't need so much moisture.

'Hong Kong's hot and humid weather is not a suitable environment for its growth.

'Every tree species has a geographical range. It is a lesson to learn that big trees shouldn't be transplanted over long distances and developers and landscape designers in Hong Kong should avoid the practice,' he said.

Jim also said transporting trees by road would involve trimming their crowns and roots for them to fit on trucks. He estimated that the dead tree had lost about 70 per cent of its crown for the trip. 'It is difficult for the tree to return to its original state after a large-scale trimming,' he said.