Polyphagous shot hole borer

Well, will you look at that. It’s been 2 years since I last blogged. Time flies when you’re focused on other things in life. Anyway…

Hopefully you have heard about the the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) which has found its way to the tree-lined streets and gardens of Johannesburg, posing a very genuine threat to our “man-made forest”.

I’m not going to repeat the information that already exists on many sites and forums online for you here though. I am however going to compile and maintain a list of links and info that I personally find relevant*. I was starting to do this anyway in order to learn more and to have all the info I need in one place to reference, and then I figured I may as well do it online in a place where you can use it too, should you so wish. And what better spot than my (almost defunct) blog?! (Also, hopefully it adds one more link to the Googleverse which one more person might see thereby raising that one little bit more awareness.)

So without further ado…

3 primary (official?) resources:


Web: http://polyphagous-shot-hole-borer.co.za/
Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Johannesburg Urban Forest Alliance (JUFA)

Web: http://www.jufa.org.za/pshb.html
Follow them on Facebook and Twitter (Info about PSHB comes up pretty often on their twitter account, but if you are into trees, forests and urban nature in general, I recommend following them.)

Forestry & Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI)

Web: https://www.fabinet.up.ac.za/index.php/research/7
FABI does have social media channels, but PSHB info on their Twitter feed is mostly retweets of info from Fungal biologist Wilhelm de Beer and their Facebook presence is a group that appears to be more company focused. Personally, I’d rather just follow the man who very clearly knows a lot:  Mr de Beer.

Other sites of interest:

Social media-related info:

People to follow:

PSBH  (@ShotHoleBorer)
The team from PSHB.co.za, facilitated by Hilton Fryer

TreeWorks  (@TreeWorks_JHB)
Jhb tree care specialist company, owned by Julian Ortlepp

Wilhelm de Beer  (@zwdebeer)
Fungal biologist, Professor at FABI

Useful hashtags:
#PSHB, #PolyphagousShotHoleBorer, #shotholeborer

List of affected trees:

The most comprehensive list of affected trees is currently on the FABI website.
However for a newbie tree-learner like me, I still need to figure out what tree it is, never mind if it’s infected. For that I need a handy list of links for the actual trees. I shall focus on the primary ones (reproductive hosts) as listed on PSHB.co.za



  • Trident (Chinese) maple (Acer buergerianum)
  • Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)
  • Pink flame tree (Brachychiton discolor)
  • American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
  • Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
  • Avocado (Persea americana)
  • London Plane (Platanus x acerifolia)
  • Pin oak (Quercus palustris)
  • English Oak (Quercus robur)
  • White willow (Salix alba)

Exotic and invasive:

Where and how to report it:

This is primarily a personal reference space. If anything is incorrect, please let me know and I will fix it or remove it immediately. I do not claim to be the expert in this issue at all, nor should this blog/reference be seen as an official or fully comprehensive source. While I aim to have up-to-date information and will add and remove to this page continuously as I learn more, I cannot vouch for its accuracy. I'm not affiliated with any organisations or initiatives either.
Always contact the scientists and arborists who know best.

Trees vs Billboards – episode 3

In the past I’ve highlighted the annoying habit that some of our outdoor advertising companies seem to enjoy: that of cutting down or dramatically trimming back street trees so that their billboards are more easily visible.

In two previous cases, the issue ended up in the local papers, in one the advertiser withdrew their ads and people hung their head in shame and promised not to do it again.

So you can imagine how annoyed I was this morning to discover another tree has fallen victim to this habit.

The tree in question is just south of the William Nicol and Ballyclare intersection in Bryanston. It’s a beautiful established Acacia tree which has been literally butchered so as to ensure a clear view of a Primedia Electronic billboard. The branches have been torn and broken – look at these pictures I took:


I actually cannot explain the rage I feel about this. This behaviour is shameful.

There is NO advertising in the world that will bring as much benefit to the world as a tree does.  When will advertisers (and developers for that matter) start to realise that they need to work with and around nature?!

PS: If you don’t think trees are important to society, please read these articles:

Tree planting with Greenpop in Durban

Greenpop – a tree planting initiative out of Cape Town – are currently in Durban for COP17, and they held a tree planting day on Sunday at the Bluff Eco Park as part of COP taking action. As it was an open invitation, I went along to take part (after all, physically planting a tree to offset my flights down here is better than just handing over the money to someone else to do it, right?)

We planted 60 trees in total in an area where the park is trying to recreate an indigenous belt of trees in place of some syringas. The park was actually once a landfill, but you wouldn’t think so now by looking at the greening that has taken place. The odd hole we dug up reminded us that it was indeed a landfill though – we unearthed things like glass bottles, plastic and bricks. (Reminding us of course that glass and plastic should be recycled!!)

Everyone had great fun – especially the kids that joined us – and it was great to be part of that. I do hope to return in a few years to see how the trees are doing.


Trees vs Billboards

Updates on The Green Forrest were very quiet during October, but I certainly hadn’t stopped following green-related stories and ideas. One issue that arose in early October was a very sad story about a group of about 45 trees that got “pruned” in order to allow for better visibility for some new billboards in Bryanston.

I heard about the issue first via @sandtontimes on Twitter – an unconfirmed report of the butchery of indigenous trees. I tried to find more info and got a vague address and that very afternoon after work I zooted over to the area to be met with a soul-destroying site. Loads of trees literally hacked to within an inch of their lives simply so the new billboard can be seen more clearly by traffic heading down Main Road in Bryanston. I walked around between what was left of the trees and just more and more furious.
Read More »

Trees, trees, everywhere!


There have been some very busy people in Sunninghill over the last 2 months since Spring sprung. I’m not sure if it’s the council, the community, some generous residents and/or local businesses, but Sunninghill is getting it’s green on with the planting of hundreds of new trees. It’s really wonderful to see – it feels like I get delighted every week as I drive around my neighbourhood spotting the new trees (and some aloes) that have been planted.

Check out the map to see where they’re all planted – it’s really so heartening. The trees range in species and sizes and are mostly in lower Sunninghill and all the way up that ‘highway’ that is the K90. However, in upper Sunninghill, the White Stinkwoods that died last winter along Maxwell Drive have been replaced with new mid-sized trees so that road is looking better now and hopefully these new trees will grow stronger than the stunted ones that were there before.

Sunninghill is going to look amazing when all the trees are bigger and it goes without saying how the trees add to the greening of our world.

A big thank you to all the wonderful people who made (and continue) to make this happen! You are my green hero’s!


Update – 15.12.2010: Just discovered the who’s and how’s behind all these new trees: Read this article. So, thanks go to the Sunninghill Ratepayers Association and Joburg City Parks!

Offsetting your vehicle’s carbon footprint

If you can offset your carbon footprint when flying, why shouldn’t you also offset your carbon footprint from driving a gas-guzzling car?

We unfortunately don’t have a viable option to reduce our reliance on our cars in this country yet, so how better to deal with the resulting carbon footprint by offsetting it. It reduces any guilt you may have had for buying that 4 litre V8 engine…

And this is exactly what my friend Brad has done. The proud owner of a super fast and sexy Nissan 350Z, I think he’s also had a minor attack of conscience about how ungreen it is (or perhaps it was just my green babbling in his left ear…) I mentioned he should buy trees to offset the extra amount of petrol he’s going to use per year to drive that powerful car, and I took me up on it! He asked for links this morning, so of course I sent him off to www.trees.co.za. He worked out that he needed to buy 24 trees to offset his additional carbon footprint for the next year, and duly went ahead and bought them.

So proud!  :)

Now I just need to work on my other half to offset his car’s footprint now too. The two little spekboom plants that I planted in our garden when he first bought his Subaru Impreza WRX STi aren’t growing nearly fast enough to offset that car!!!