Conservation officials are investigating the alleged poisoning of a decades-old Norfolk Island Pine in Stanley that might have become a target because of fung shui.
The six-storey-high pine tree, which tilts towards one side, sits outside Beach Mansion at 6 Stanley Beach Road, opposite a newly-completed development of China Overseas Land and Investment.
It blocks the view of some flats in the new development.
However, the developer said yesterday that it had nothing to do with the alleged poisoning and had received no complaints from the residents about the pine. The possible poisoning was first discovered about two weeks ago by gardener Wong Kim-ki, who works at Beach Mansion.
He found a large empty plastic container labelled as herbicide in simplified Chinese.
It had small holes in the bottom which Wong suspected enabled liquid poison to seep into the soil.
A week ago, Wong found another empty container at the bottom of the tree, with residual drops of dark green liquid inside.
But he threw the containers away and did not alert the authorities.
Wong said several small trees around the pine tree had started to wither in the past week, but the pine tree still looked healthy at the moment. 'It is both good and bad news for the tree. If there has been deliberate damage done against the tree, then it will continue to be targeted until it is got rid of,' said Wong.
He said he believed the tree might be targeted by some people because it blocked the view from some of the flats. 'It is quite common for Chinese people to regard this tree as being bad fung shui because it spoils the view from some flats,' he said.
'The use of poison on trees had never happened here until the completion of the new flats.'
The Lands Department said it was responsible for the tree as it was located on government land, but officers found no apparent withering or damage it.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department will investigate if there has been deliberate damage. Under the Forests and Countryside Ordinance, it is an offence to damage vegetation on public land.