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Invasive Trees In The Houston Area - Spreading

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We have some in our backyard that were probably planted when our house was built. The Chinese Tallow was a popular landscaping tree in the 1920s & 1930s, since Mr Teas of Teas Nursery fame recommended them for many new Houston subdivisions at the time. Now, these trees are about 80 years old and reaching the end of their lifecycle. Their seeds sprout really easily. I'm always pulling up seedlings that have sprouted in flower beds, or in our potted plants.

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Yeah, my folks had one when I was a kid. Strong enough to climb, pretty leaves, and the green seeds were perfect slingshot ammo. Never really understood why they cut it down. (I think because they wanted to pave the area and build a carport.) I loved that tree.

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The basic reason I posted this here is because we tend to focus on construction. Every single new home and office building developer needs to consider how they landscape their new creation. It is as part of the development as the construction itself. Given a stand of trees does not mean that the trees need to stay. Landscaping responsibly is important. The invasive species list is fairly long now. I saw one being sold at a garage sale this last weekend. They are typically pleaseing to the eye, but come from the far reaches of the earth. Over the past few decades we have learned a lot about landscaping. Most of the professionals will make thoughtful recommendations using native trees and shrubs, but some will not.

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Indian Hawthorne and Crepe Myrtles are non native....see any way to stop those??? Honestly, I think currently we are overusing Live Oaks as Landscape trees...the overuse of a species can lead to devastating diseases...think of the Elm...

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Do they cause any harm other than existing and disturbing our native plants and trees?

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Do they cause any harm other than existing and disturbing our native plants and trees?

Honestly, in the Houston area, not nearly as much as the bulldozers, those aren't native either...

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The first act of "landscaping" when we moved into our house 5 years ago was to cut down the POS Tallow tree from the front yard.

They're worthless trees...look at the coastal prairie south of Houston if you want to see the damage they are capable of.

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They're worthless trees...look at the coastal prairie south of Houston if you want to see the damage they are capable of.

No wonder we had one! That's where I'm from! :) Sure, we were always pulling up seedlings but we just considered that part of yard work.

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The first act of "landscaping" when we moved into our house 5 years ago was to cut down the POS Tallow tree from the front yard.

They're worthless trees...look at the coastal prairie south of Houston if you want to see the damage they are capable of.

With gas prices so high I thought I'd give you northsiders a peek of what tallow trees have done to the south side.

A quick Google search turned up this photo near La Marque...but it's the same story all over Brazoria County and southern Harris County too. I think this is what's meant by "invasive non-native species."

A tallow "forest":

TRSE6_AumannP0000349.jpg

Edited by Original Timmy Chan's

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I took a botany class while at San Jacinto JR College. On a "field trip" our professor injected formaldehyde into tallow trees she couldn't rip up from the root. She told us she always did it. I too used the little fruit for slingshot ammo, good times..

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With gas prices so high I thought I'd give you northsiders a peek of what tallow trees have done to the south side.

A quick Google search turned up this photo near La Marque...but it's the same story all over Brazoria County and southern Harris County too. I think this is what's meant by "invasive non-native species."

A tallow "forest":

TRSE6_AumannP0000349.jpg

I really don't mean to be argumentative, but I've probably seen scenes like this hundreds of times and never noticed it other than to think "Oh, good, there are still some woods around that haven't been paved for a Home Depot or such ilk." As I posted earlier, I grew up with a tallow (we had some smaller ones in the back yard too) and, interestingly enough, it was one of the few in our neighborhood. I'm not seeing the urgency of the "problem."

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I have this weed/tree that grows all over my house that I think might be Chinese Tallow. It starts as little weeds and within a very short time it grows into very large trees. I love it for its tenaciousness.

According to Wikipedia: "It is the second or third most productive vegetable-oil-bearing seed crop in the world, after oil palm and algae, therefore useful in production of biodiesel."

I love it even more.

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I have this weed/tree that grows all over my house that I think might be Chinese Tallow. It starts as little weeds and within a very short time it grows into very large trees. I love it for its tenaciousness.

According to Wikipedia: "It is the second or third most productive vegetable-oil-bearing seed crop in the world, after oil palm and algae, therefore useful in production of biodiesel."

I love it even more.

Love it. It's like forcing your neighbor in the burbs to plant some trees. Lord knows I needed that in the at that last house.

Trees good.

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It's a noxious weed. Plant one and you and your neighbors will ever be able to get rid of them. I don't think animals can eat the seedpods, so it chokes out their food sources.

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It's a noxious weed. Plant one and you and your neighbors will ever be able to get rid of them. I don't think animals can eat the seedpods, so it chokes out their food sources.

I'm not a biologist, but I've heard enough of them cursing tallow trees to believe them when they say that tallow trees are harmful plants. From what I've heard it dries up wetlands, crowds out other species, is worthless to wildlife, and it's toxic to livestock.

If anyone knows about the salt cedar/tamarisk out in the Big Bend area, the tallow tree is Houston's equivalent.

From http://www.texasinvasives.org/Invasives_Da...sp?Symbol=TRSE6:

Ecological Threat: Chinese tallow will transform native habitats into monospecific (single species) tallow forests in the absence of land management practices. Chinese tallow alters light availability for other plant species. Fallen tallow leaves contain toxins that create unfavorable soil conditions for native plant species. Chinese tallow will outcompete native plant species, reducing habitat for wildlife as well as forage areas for livestock.

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From http://www.texasinvasives.org/Invasives_Da...sp?Symbol=TRSE6:

Ecological Threat: Chinese tallow will transform native habitats into monospecific (single species) tallow forests in the absence of land management practices. Chinese tallow alters light availability for other plant species. Fallen tallow leaves contain toxins that create unfavorable soil conditions for native plant species. Chinese tallow will outcompete native plant species, reducing habitat for wildlife as well as forage areas for livestock.

Which would win: Chinese tallow vs kudzu?

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How about mesquite? That tree has decimated many parts of West Texas. Wildfires no longer control its growth, allowing it to spread quickly, rob massive amounts of ground water, and choke out native grasses. Its only redeeming feature is the bbq wood it produces.

Our idiot neighbors actually planted some in their yard. I want to secretly cut it down in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, mesquite is virtually impossible to kill.

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It's a noxious weed. Plant one and you and your neighbors will ever be able to get rid of them. I don't think animals can eat the seedpods, so it chokes out their food sources.

It hasn't hurt the fire ants.

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How about mesquite? That tree has decimated many parts of West Texas. Wildfires no longer control its growth, allowing it to spread quickly, rob massive amounts of ground water, and choke out native grasses. Its only redeeming feature is the bbq wood it produces.

Our idiot neighbors actually planted some in their yard. I want to secretly cut it down in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, mesquite is virtually impossible to kill.

Diesel fuel works wonders

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Which would win: Chinese tallow vs kudzu?

That is a tough one to call...I think it depends on where the match is held...I think any venue east of the Mississippi goes to Kudzu...West of the Mississippi goes to Tallow...

If you have ever been to Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama...the Kudzu is unreal...

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There's a reason the Tallow is called a Trash Tree. You don't feel bad when you have to clear them to build a house.

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I really don't mean to be argumentative, but I've probably seen scenes like this hundreds of times and never noticed it other than to think "Oh, good, there are still some woods around that haven't been paved for a Home Depot or such ilk." As I posted earlier, I grew up with a tallow (we had some smaller ones in the back yard too) and, interestingly enough, it was one of the few in our neighborhood. I'm not seeing the urgency of the "problem."

Someone may have commented on this before me, but I just wanted to point the issue. What you see in that photo is an example of the tree overtaking the prairie. It is not a case that there remains forests. The case is that there does not remain a prairie. Birds and anilmals that live on the prairie have been robbed of their habitat. The prairie does not have trees! It has marsh, prairie grass, various bushes. Those can not grow when a species from China displaces it and poisons the ground. The fruit is worthless to the wildlife here. Fortunately, the birds are not poisoned by the seeds because there is an outer covering that is not permeated when the birds "eat" the seed. It just goes through the bird's gut without nourishment. I am not sure if the toxicity of the leaves and sap kill many animals or birds, but it might. e are advised here not to put the branches out with the other material to mulch, because it is like putting a herbicide on your yard and plants when the mulch is used containing parts of the plant.

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After I move back to Texas and buy a home I plan on joining (or starting) a group dedicated to cutting back on invasive species of all kinds, focusing on species like Chinese tallow and kudzu. Also, if anyone on this forum hunts, feral swine (known colloquially as hogs are invasive (not to be confused with native peccaries). Get out there and do some good for Mother Nature. Wild pork is good fer ya.

I know this thread is about Chinese tallow in particular, but invasive species are wreaking havoc all over the place. Here's an interesting article about it (if you can't access it, registration is free and without any ensuing solicitation).

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/20/opinion/20grescoe.html

This is interesting, too (if not a bit disturbing).

http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=937

Sorry about the swerve off topic. Death to Chinese tallow.

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Wow, slime in the water machine!

Yep, there are many issues that are man made. That is one reason people are afraid of genetic engineering. We do not understand the consequences of what we do when we fool with mother nature.

I attended a recent seminar on this subject, but it was very localized and thelist is relatively long. Of course Hyrdrilla, another aquarium species is a major issue on our ponds and lakes,

We could spend a few years in this one thread if we were to take to such broad discussion. If interested, we could discuss a few other related issues in separate threads. Right now, as noted, the focus is on one species. Taking care of one is a big chore and expensive I might add. I looked through the list and beleive by far the most threatening of the invasive plants here today are two varieties of water plants and this one tree.

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You can all thank South Side Place for the spread of tallow trees. All of South Side Place's streets were lined with them back in the 60's and 70's. Hopefully the teardown crews are including the tallows as they make their way through to the last structure.

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You can all thank South Side Place for the spread of tallow trees. All of South Side Place's streets were lined with them back in the 60's and 70's. Hopefully the teardown crews are including the tallows as they make their way through to the last structure.

I brought down my third of four trees today. Now I am faced with a disposal dilemma. Searching for a service to dispose of the leaves, limbs and trunks without using it for mulch. I am betting that a lot of mulch has this material in it - a natural herbicide.

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I cut down one of these nasty things last year. Because I live in the wooded Heights, some of my neighbors were quite upset that I cut down a tree. One even took photos for "evidence". The fact that all four branches of the tree had rotted from the inside meant nothing. I actually spent time on the internet researching how much trouble I might be in, since the tree was on the city easement.

Turns out the weed is banned in most southern states. There are numerous pleas to rid your property of them. The City of Houston has a list of approved native trees. Since this tree was borderline (20 inches diameter), and I replaced it with two native trees (Red Oak), I relaxed that I was not in danger. Later, an architect friend asked the City Arborist about my deed. His response: "If your friend had called us, we'd have cut it down for him!"

I still pull up saplings several times a year (my neighbor still has one), but happily my yard is Tallow-free.

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One (only?) good thing about new suburban lots: no tallow trees (at least not in my 'hood).

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One (only?) good thing about new suburban lots: no tallow trees (at least not in my 'hood).

Well, Coles Crossing is new suburban and they went to great pains to save trees...including the Tallow!!!

There are quite a few in my neighbors yard and all around. I tell them they are invasive and should be cut down, they say no way and that some neighbors ask them what they are because they want one in the fall when they turn that beautiful red color. I pull saplings out of my yard often, though I have a large Sweetgum that probably cuts down on the Tallow saplings because they are just as voracious as the Tallow.

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Well, Coles Crossing is new suburban and they went to great pains to save trees...including the Tallow!!!

There are quite a few in my neighbors yard and all around. I tell them they are invasive and should be cut down, they say no way and that some neighbors ask them what they are because they want one in the fall when they turn that beautiful red color. I pull saplings out of my yard often, though I have a large Sweetgum that probably cuts down on the Tallow saplings because they are just as voracious as the Tallow.

In our neighborhood, aerial photos from before development began show there weren't a whole lot of trees on that land to begin with (although I'm sure there were some tallow in there). The only mature trees that the developer left were some pines. Everything else was planted by the developer.

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Well, Coles Crossing is new suburban and they went to great pains to save trees...including the Tallow!!!

There are quite a few in my neighbors yard and all around. I tell them they are invasive and should be cut down, they say no way and that some neighbors ask them what they are because they want one in the fall when they turn that beautiful red color. I pull saplings out of my yard often, though I have a large Sweetgum that probably cuts down on the Tallow saplings because they are just as voracious as the Tallow.

I had two of these within a few feet of my foundation, and I chopped them down back in 2004.

The roots still, up until recent, tried to grow back still with sprouts.

I think it is finally dead now.

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One (only?) good thing about new suburban lots: no tallow trees (at least not in my 'hood).

Well....right after I finished that post, I went into the back yard and noticed a new one growing just on the other side of my fence, in the neighbor's alley. I hope to convince them to let me cut it down. It is only about 8 feet tall right now...by the end of the summer, it will likely be twice that.

Here's to hoping. :mellow:

EDIT: Actually, it is on the fence line, and behind their garage. Maybe a stealth move in the middle of the night will cure it. It IS in the alley, after all. :rolleyes:

Edited by RedScare

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Has anyone had any luck with avocado trees? I know they grow quickly, but how do they fare the winter? Do any of yours bear fruit?

I used to worked for a brief time with a little Korean woman who grew many, many fruit trees at her home near 290 and Telge...including avocado that bore fruit. I ate some in guacamole and it was great, but this was also kind of her hobby, so I don't know what pains she went through to care for her fruit trees...

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Has anyone had any luck with avocado trees? I know they grow quickly, but how do they fare the winter? Do any of yours bear fruit?

I've got one growing up next to the house and it's about 15 ft. tall now. I grew it from a seed, but it bares not fruit because I did not graft it when it was young. I think the only reason it has survived is because it's up next to the south side of the house and I also live south of Dickinson Bayou amongst the dreaded tallows.

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Now that I have two trees downed in my yard and a mountain of brush, the challenge is its disposal. There are two trends of thought -(1) recycle for composting and (2) landfill. I am hoping the composting argument wins. Will advise when I know more.

Still have the biggest tree yet to cut down. It must be 30 or more feet tall.

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Now that I have two trees downed in my yard and a mountain of brush, the challenge is its disposal. There are two trends of thought -(1) recycle for composting and (2) landfill. I am hoping the composting argument wins. Will advise when I know more.

Still have the biggest tree yet to cut down. It must be 30 or more feet tall.

I get to reply to myself this time. I found out that we can dispose of the tree trash in the regular wood trash recycle process. There is sufficient material picked up for mulching here and the process used is a heat composting process which neutralizes the effect of the natural herbicides. I updated the blog entry to reflect that new learning. If the methodof recycling is merely cutting into mulch material, the process is insufficient and the material needs to be burned or buried.

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Which would win: Chinese tallow vs kudzu?

You have a great point. I heard that Kudzu is faster! Fortunately we don't have that one here .... yet.

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We have some in our backyard that were probably planted when our house was built. The Chinese Tallow was a popular landscaping tree in the 1920s & 1930s, since Mr Teas of Teas Nursery fame recommended them for many new Houston subdivisions at the time. Now, these trees are about 80 years old and reaching the end of their lifecycle. Their seeds sprout really easily. I'm always pulling up seedlings that have sprouted in flower beds, or in our potted plants.

I also read that somewhere. My yard (growing up) had chinese tallows, a magnolia, and a china berry...always got the two chinese names mixed up. The chinese tallow was a good climbing tree, those shells hurt to walk on, the chinaberry is still one of my favorites. Very colorful (reds & yellows in the fall), grows tall. Asians had plant nurseries & rice fields in Houston in the early 1900's...could be why the tallow was introduced here.

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I also read that somewhere. My yard (growing up) had chinese tallows, a magnolia, and a china berry...always got the two chinese names mixed up. The chinese tallow was a good climbing tree, those shells hurt to walk on, the chinaberry is still one of my favorites. Very colorful (reds & yellows in the fall), grows tall. Asians had plant nurseries & rice fields in Houston in the early 1900's...could be why the tallow was introduced here.

I loved the chinaberry as well. As kids, we used to have great "wars" with those berries. I have not seen any issue posed by that tree in our ecology. However, there are quite a few other plants that do create problems in the forest. I will be trying to identify the #2 invasive plant soon. It is probably be another chinese native plant. Excellent point about the Asians and the rice fields.

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Maybe the Chinese tallows will be eaten by the crazy rasberry ants.

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A timely reminder: we're less than two weeks away from the beginning of hurricane season.

If you have trees which might lose limbs or topple in high winds, and they're within striking distance of power lines, now is the time to report them to Centerpoint. A bit of trimming now can save a lot of headaches in the future.

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A timely reminder: we're less than two weeks away from the beginning of hurricane season.

If you have trees which might lose limbs or topple in high winds, and they're within striking distance of power lines, now is the time to report them to Centerpoint. A bit of trimming now can save a lot of headaches in the future.

Most invasive tree in Houston now - those pear trees. Neighbors like to plant them along the fence and against the house because they are so small, cute, and round. When they grow, every single branch gets too heavy for its attachment. Since its hurricane season, you have a duty to cut down every branch that might crash on your neighbor's property.

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Since its hurricane season, you have a duty to cut down every branch that might crash on your neighbor's property.

Speaking of, what is the law in Texas regarding this?

Not that I'm concerned. It'll be years before my trees have limbs large enough to crush a cardboard box.

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As I read this article, I was reminded of this thread.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/magazine/29weeds-t.html

It's an interesting look at weeds and other unwanted plants and the surprising roles they play in ecology. Even if you're a climate change skeptic, this article won't rile you. The author doesn't really write so much about anthropogenic climate change as the roles certain plants play as the climate does warm.

Can Weeds Help Solve the Climate Crisis?

By TOM CHRISTOPHER

Published: June 29, 2008

Lewis Ziska, a lanky, sandy-haired weed ecologist with the Agriculture Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, matches a dry sense of humor with tired eyes. The humor is essential to Ziska

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