FABI tree health researchers were recently alerted to a concerning die-back affecting Araucaria trees in Stellenbosch. Dr Trudy Paap joined the well-known arborist and tree climber Mr Leon Visser, who assisted her in climbing some of these trees to sample their dying tops. This included a ‘Champion Tree’ – a 200-year old Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island pine). At 45m, this is the tallest tree in town. The trees had symptoms of a top-down die-back, and with Leon’s help, Trudy was able to sample the trunks at the disease interface.  It is suspected the extreme drought from 2015-2017 has played a significant role in inciting the die-back, and that opportunistic pathogens may be involved. Being able to collect samples right at the point of interest in the canopy, however, presented an opportunity to confirm the identity of biotic agents. It is hoped that the knowledge gained from this unique sampling effort will help guide a strategy to limit the decline and restore tree vigour.