Two people were left injured today after a giant tree fell on Bonham Road in the Mid-levels, closing both lanes of traffic along the busy thoroughfare.

Standing roughly 20 meters tall, the towering banyan is believed to have been the tallest in Hong Kong growing out of a stone wall.

Hong Kong Observatory raised the amber rainstorm warning signal during heavy rainfall at 3:35am, indicating downpours of more than 30 millimetres an hour in parts of the territory.

Photo: TY Chan.

Both of the injured have been taken to Queen Mary Hospital, where their condition remains unknown.

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Posted by 現場 - 蘋果突發 on 2015年7月21日

The fallen tree was uprooted from a wall opposite the Centre Street escalators near the recently opened Sai Ying Pun MTR station.

Photo: Alvin Poon.

In 1996, Hong Kong was estimated to have 1,275 trees growing out of 505 retaining walls. With many streets built along flattened slopes, Central and Western District possesses the highest concentration of  these distinctive “stonewall trees” with over one hundred.

Assistant Professor Matthew Pryor, head of the University of Hong Kong’s Division of Landscape Architecture, told HKFP that the fallen tree was most likely 70-80 years old.

Stonewall trees are a unique landscape feature for Hong Kong. Few other world cities boast so many walls with spontaneous vegetation in an urban setting, according to Prof CY Jim, Chair Professor of HKU’s Department of Geography.

As traditional stone block walls have been supplanted by reinforced concrete, however, the trees have become doubly unique due to their irreplaceable nature.

On Monday afternoon, a 14-metre banyan tree weighing up to ten tonnes was uprooted by the strong winds outside Central Government Offices, crashing down on a van and striking a cleaning woman from a nearby construction site.

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Ryan Kilpatrick

Ryan Kilpatrick is a local writer, journalist and editor. Formerly National Online Editor for the That's magazine group in China, his work on the history and politics of the region has earned him the CEFC Award in Modern China Studies and has also appeared in China Economic Review, Asian Studies Review, China Green News, e-International Relations, Shanghaiist and various publications at his alma mater, the University of Hong Kong, where he is currently enrolled in the Master of Journalism programme.