Posts Tagged ‘ornamental plants’

Invasive Alert: Chinese Tallow Tree

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The state of Alabama doesn’t worry too much about invasive plants like privet or kudzu, which have seemed to take over much of the south. No, the one botanists fear is the Chinese tallow tree.

Also known as the popcorn tree for the white, waxy tallow substance on its fruit that kind of looks like popcorn, this tree is so invasive in Alabama that they have taken to fighting it from the air.

So why should Michigan be concerned?

The U.S. Forest Service has data that shows the tree’s population has grown 500% between 1991 and 2005.

The tree thrives in wetland environments, but is not limited to them. The tree can grow in suburban areas, forest edges, and even sand dunes. It is still a popular ornamental tree in residential neighborhoods for its bright red fall color.

Yet once established this tree spreads quick. One mature Chinese tallow can produce 100,000 seeds every year. Those seeds are spread by birds and other animals, as well as flood waters. And the seeds can stay dormant for years before sprouting.

In addition to seeds, Chinese tallow has an extensive root system, with new shoots sprouting along it. These two things combined mean tallow can grow in clusters so thick that it drowns out all other native plants.

And it’s not that far away. According to a map from the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, the plant was found in a county in southern Wisconsin as of July 2017.

The moral of this story?

Keep an eye out for plants that look unusual to you. It may be something that doesn’t belong. Learn from Alabama’s experience. If you find something you’re not sure of, check out the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network and report it if it’s invasive.

Be wary of what you purchase at a nursery or your local home supply store garden center. Make sure that it’s native to Michigan and you aren’t becoming the source of a new infestation of an invasive plant.

Read more about Chinese tallow tree below.

 

Alabama fears this invasive plant so much we attacked it from the air

Posted July 31, 2017, News from Al.com

Dennis Pillion | dpillion@al.com

When talking about invasive plants in Alabama, kudzu and privet tend to be the ones people are most familiar with, but they’re not the ones Alabama botanists and wildlife officials are most worried about.

One of those is the Chinese tallow tree, or popcorn tree, one of Alabama’s most invasive species.

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