Fungus attacking city's Monterey pines

San Franciscans are being asked to watch the trees in their backyards for signs of the Pine Pitch Canker, a regional fungal disease that is attacking treasured Monterey pines in The City.

The Department of Public Works is asking residents to inspect their trees for browning branch tips that appear to be dead.

DPW has issued permits for removal of 36 pine trees from private property in the last two years.  Crews have also removed 68 trees from DPW-maintained medians, mostly along Sunset Boulevard and along Brotherhood Way.

“It’s pretty widespread, but a lot of people might not realize it’s not necessarily a death sentence,” said Carla Short, urban forester with the DPW. “Many can recover.”

Although it’s impossible to prevent Pine Pitch Canker, residents can take precaution to keep it from spreading, Short said. The best way to do that is prune your trees during the raining winter months, she said.

If you are unsure, always consult an arborist. There is no reason to remove a tree that isn’t dead, Short said.

Pine trees are among San Francisco’s most mature trees. It is estimated that of the 108,000 street trees in The City, only 1 percent are mature trees. Mature trees provide increased environmental and aesthetic benefits, such as stormwater diversion, pollution absorption, wildlife habitat and increased property values, according to DPW.

“Pines are our statuesque species so we hope to not lose them unnecessarily,” Short said.

 

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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