Invasive Trees Are Threatening Our Beloved Natural Habitat.
When a tree is growing in its natural habitat, there are plenty of pests, diseases and adverse conditions to limit it from taking over an entire ecosystem. These challenges kill enough trees to ensure a balanced system. However, global trade and discerning landscapers have brought plants out of their native homes and spread them across the world. Welcoming conditions and a total lack of competition has let plants like kudzu take over entire countryside, starving out native plants and often causing other problems like erosion or soil nutrient loss. Look out for these invasive and aggressive trees around your home and have them removed, if you spot them.
Chinaberry: Not so Delicate
Invasive trees are not limited to Kudzu. The Melia azedarach or more commonly called Chinaberry tree is a quick growing deciduous tree that develops an open branching habit and has attractive green leaves with an off-putting musky smell. These trees produce a small yellow or brownish fruit in the summer that is very attractive to children and pets. Unfortunately, the Watershed Protection Agency of Central Texas warns that these fruits are highly poisonous. The tree spreads rapidly through seeds and root propagation, making them difficult to remove without triggering the sprouting of a dozen new saplings. A professional team can use proper chemicals to ensure the roots are killed entirely without a major excavation.
Tree of Heaven…or Hell?
Despite its attractive name, the Ailanthus altissima or “Tree of Heaven” is quite a pest. It can grow as high as 80 feet in the hot conditions found in Texas. The pink flowers and brightly colored seedpods may seem harmless, but these trees grow very quickly and use large canopies to shade out competing trees. They can quickly destroy susceptible populations of live oaks and other native trees. The tree produces thousands of seeds per year and it also spreads through root shoots and stump shoots. The entire root system must be removed to truly get rid of this tree.
White Mulberry – Rooted Deep in the Heart of Texas
Sweet mulberry fruit from Morus alba may make one or two of these trees worth keeping, but only if you are prepared to pick all of them each year and to keep the tree heavily pruned to manage growth. The Watershed Protection Agency reports that they can reach 70 feet in height. Fruit produced by the tree on branches too high for you to reach will be eaten by birds, which can start a grove of fast growing mulberry trees with the seeds from one fruit. They are also hybridized with native red mulberry trees, reducing the quality of their fruits.
Mimosa: Nice Tree to Visit but Don’t Drink the Fruit Juice
The beautiful, showy blooms and delicate fern-like foliage has prompted thousands of homeowners to plant an Albizia julibrissin tree in their yard. Also known as a silk tree, these plants are very aggressive and thrive in sites that flood occasionally and remain dry the rest of the time. They can choke out riverbanks and cause them to erode rapidly. The fruit produced in the fall is also highly toxic, containing a neurotoxin that can kill pets and children who play with them and accidentally eat a small bit. Removal is relatively easy. You can cut down any offending mimosas and keep the stumps trimmed of new sprouts for a few years to stop the spread.
Chinese Tallow – Are These Giants Poisoning Our Water?
It’s not uncommon to see dozens of Sapium sebiferum (Chinese Tallow)saplings popping up along a bare creek side or disturbed area in Central Texas. These extremely quick growing trees thrive in difficult and wet environments. They can reach a height of 60 feet in just a few years, creating thick shade that smothers other plants. The leaves, fruit and even sap of this tree are toxic to humans, according to the Watershed Protection Agency. These trees can be removed with the same techniques used for mimosas.