Professional Tree Maintenance


Tree Care and Treatment

In Wonga Park & Melbourne Eastern Suburbs

Because we are consulting arborists Lucas Tree Services we have an understanding of trees and tree care, we can safely help give a broader perspective on both the health and structure of your trees and consult on the longer term implications of your tree pest treatment decisions. For example we can provide some unbiased guidance on tree structure / failure potential and the associated risk of a failure as well as the implications of drilling or injecting trees or using soil treatments.

Cypress Canker Dieback

Over the last few years Victoria has seen an extensive increase in the occurrence of Cypress Canker (Seiridium spp) / Cypress Dieback on various exotic Cypress trees.

Fungal spores enter a tree through wounds in the bark which could be pruning cuts, cracks, insect holes, storm damage to limbs etc. and interfere with the conducting system of the Cypress tree. The spores are usually spread by wind and water splash. Usual symptoms include dieback from the top of the tree down or selected branches browning and dying throughout the canopy, a branch can change colour over a period of days.

You may (but not always) see thin, elongated scourges on the stems, branches and branch axils. These scourges cause twig and branch dieback. Most scourges are wounds, slightly sunken, with raised margins, and they may be discoloured dark brown to purple. Cracked bark in infected areas is often accompanied by extensive resin exudates that flow down the diseased branches and trunk. The cambial tissue beneath oozing sites is discoloured with reddish to brown colour. Once most of the canopy has browned off that limb or that tree will almost certainly die. We believe the long period of dry conditions weakened the trees, particularly the root systems; they have then been hit with a period of above-average rainfall and optimum conditions for fungal attack. The trees have been damaged and stressed making them susceptible to dieback from a range of fungal diseases. It is highly likely that the disease is the secondary problem (the final straw) and the primary issue is tree stress which is making trees susceptible to attack.


Management of cypress canker is the responsibility of the land owner/manager. In significantly affected trees, replacement with known tolerant cypress species or varieties (see above) may be the only long-term option.

Cypresses can also be replaced with unrelated plant species, such as Australian natives, including for use as shelterbelts. In re-planted or existing cypresses, canker damage can be minimised by ensuring trees are well-sited and well-managed; for example:

Avoid planting susceptible species on disease-prone sites, such as those with high levels of nitrogen. Keep trees healthy to improve their natural defences against an initial infection. If fertilisers are required, they should be evenly distributed around the drip line of the trees. Watering may be needed during dry spells. Reduce the chances of branch or stem wounding e.g. by fencing off trees from livestock.

Prune infected branches a minimum of 10 centimetres below the canker to help prevent infection spreading to the main stems (but take care not to over-prune). Pruning should preferably be done in winter or following dry weather, when spores are less likely to infect pruning wounds. After pruning, wound dressings may help to prevent spore infection. All pruning tools should be sterilised before and after use with either alcohol or dilute bleach. Remove and destroy severely diseased plants by deep burial or burning to help to reduce the risk of neighbouring trees becoming infected.

Trees affected

Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa), Lambert’s Cypress (Cupressus lambertiana), Lawson’s Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana), Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica), False Cypress or Lawson’s Cypress (Cupressus lawsoniana), hybrids: x Cupressocyparis leylandii including cultivars ‘Castlewellan Gold’, ‘Leighton’s Green’, ‘Naylor’s Blue’, and ‘Swane’s Golden’. There are other susceptible species.

Less affected trees

Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica), Mexican Cypress (Cupressus lusitanica), Bhutan Cypress (Cupressus torulosa), Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata), Thuja occidentalis, Juniperu s virginiana.


Cunnington, J.H. (2007) Seiridium cupressi is the common cause of cypress canker in south-eastern Australia. Australasian Plant Disease Notes, 2, 5355

Graniti A. (1998) Cypress canker: a pandemic in progress. Annual Review of Phytopathology 36, 91114. doi: 10.1146/annurev.phyto.36.1.91

Hansen, E.M. and Lewis, K.J. (1997) Compendium of Conifer Diseases. APS Press. The American Phytopathological Society. Lunn, M. (2004)  Fact Sheet: Cypress Canker ABC Gardening Australia

Reid, A. (2004)  Cypress Canker (caused by Seiridium spp.) Department of Agriculture and food. Government of Western Australia. Note: 13

Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens Trust Fact Sheet on Cypress Canker

Not sure what disease your tree has? Call 0428 319 454 today to find out if your trees could be in danger.