Danger in the suburbs

During the corona virus lockdown, regularly my cul de sac neighbours and I would drag our deck chairs to the edges of our driveways. Sometimes there would be small table as well. And then something to drink. Coming from a system of waves and smiles and not much more than a ‘gday’, this gave us all the opportunity to get to know each other, to have a laugh, and to feel a little bit more normal.

It was on one such afternoon that the conversation meandered to the Norfolk Pine tree growing in the property below one of my neighbour’s house. Dangerous they declared. Then another agreed. ‘Why?’, I asked. ‘It is their cast offs’, they told me. ‘What do you mean?’ ‘They’re lethal’. Everyone nodded. The most affected neighbour rose and charged down to his backyard to bring up an example so I would be able to agree as well.


He brought back a long stem, one edged with woody hard ‘leaves’ that were directed away from where the stem would have joined the tree; they were directed towards the tip end, each with a point that would pierce thin skin. Those many points were so very sharp. To hold, I had to be exceptionally gentle. It was impossible to grab. Simply I let it rest evenly across my hand and I applied no pressure at all. This was the only means of ‘handling’ it.  IMG_9542



Architecturally it was a marvel. A masterpiece. I had to admire its construction.

We live in an environment where it rains seldom but it is often very windy. I now understood. The thought of such a missile flying through the air in 40 or 60 km an hour winds or the gusts that far exceed these numbers, was frightening. It would become a weapon to rip and cause great damage if it caught hold of a person or animal as it passed.

I suspect this is an old tree perhaps with an interesting social history from decades past. Would I advocate for the tree to be removed? I agree its cast offs are shockingly sharp and could cause appalling damage, but since I do not have to make a decision I will sit on the fence for this one.

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