The Victory Tree planted at Mona Vale to honour the fallen of World War I has died.

The memorial Victory Tree is a Holly Oak (Quercus ilex), an evergreen that was planted in the interwar period in the grounds of what was then a Methodist Church, but is now nestled between a takeaway chicken shop and a bus stop at the corner of Pittwater Road and Akuna Lane, Mona Vale (main image).

Victory Tree at Mona Vale dies

Two hundred (200) Victory Trees were supplied with the assistance of Mr J Maiden, Chief Botanist, Botanic Gardens of Sydney, and planted in church grounds across NSW as part of a state-wide Methodist youth program to honour the sacrifice of Australian soldiers in World War I (1914-1918). Commemorative services were intended to be held each year around the memorial trees in the lead-up to Anzac Day (25 April).

Planted in 1920, the Victory Tree at Mona Vale survived for over a century, until concerns were recently raised about its health (image below). There were some initial fears the Holly Oak’s poor condition may have been the result of poisoning, but it was confirmed the cause of the tree’s deteriorating condition was a soil-borne fungal disease, ‘Armillaria root rot’, commonly known as Oak Root Fungus.

Victory Tree at Mona Vale dies

Together with the private property owner, Northern Beaches Council consulted with the PlantClinic at the Botanic Gardens of Sydney to diagnose and attempt management of the disease. Unfortunately, several treatments over a period of eight months were unsuccessful in saving the tree.

Northern Beaches Council says it is working on ways to preserve the Victory Tree’s heritage value, and is making plans to plant another symbolic tree nearby. A tree cannot be planted in the same location as the soil is now contaminated by the fungal disease, which will kill any replacement planted within the next decade.

Victory Tree at Mona Vale dies
Deborah Carter

Deborah Carter

Pittwater RSL sub-Branch President Deborah Carter said the loss of the Victory Tree was sad given its important link to history.

“It is very sad to hear of the Victory Tree dying. We recognise and commemorate its historical significance in the wake of the Allied victory in World War I, both to recognise the soldiers lost to achieve that victory, and for those who were left to mourn those who were lost,” said Ms Carter.

Victory Tree at Mona Vale dies

According to an inscription on an interpretive sign (image above) erected by Pittwater Council near the base of the Holly Oak at Mona Vale in May 2016, it is believed that very few of the 200 Victory Trees remain. Of those that do, few are identified, and it is unknown how many remain today.

“Despite the size of the original program, it appears that very few of the Victory Trees remain, and if they do, few are identified as such. This makes this tree at Mona Vale even more special.” — Pittwater Council.

Have you got thoughts about where a Victory Tree might be replanted? Let us know below.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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