Botanists from the Hualien County Government and Cheng Fu-Tien Tree Healing and Conservation Foundation yesterday joined forces to cure the beautyleaf trees (Calophyllum inophyllum) planted along both sides of Mingli Road, which have been plagued by termites and corrosion over the past decade.
The 35 trees dating to the Japanese colonial era were planted by Karenko Prefecture Hospital and are more than 100 years old.
Hualien County Department of Agriculture section head Lin You-chih (林侑志) said the trees are unique, as they form the nation’s oldest “green corridor.”
“Some of the trees have damaged trunks or limbs that require treatment to prevent the wood from corroding,” he said, adding that some were infested with termites and he had to dig deep into the trunks to excavate the nests.
Lin said there used to be 40 trees, but five had been destroyed by typhoons and pests.
“These old trees have great sentimental value for Hualien County residents, he said.
Nach Huang (黃奕珣), head of the foundation’s Environment Department, said that tree doctors are focusing their efforts on two trees which are deemed most at risk because a substantial portion of their trunks has been hollowed out.
Likening her work to that of a dentist, she said that treating trees is like filling dental caries, which involves sterilizing and covering the hole. She said that tree doctors had removed the old artificial bark applied to a number of the trees years ago and replaced it with new ones, as methods to treat tree diseases have advanced with time.
The foundation, which is known for its expertise in treating tree diseases, launched the “Save the Old Trees 2014 campaign” in January, under which the trees in Hualien County qualified to receive treatment.
The campaign aims to provide free treatments to ailing trees, whether they belong to organizations or individuals.
The beautyleaf tree is native to Taiwan and is resilient against salty and windy environments, which is why they are often found along shorelines, Huang said.
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