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Removing Invasive Trees in Central Florida

Chinese tallow…. Brazilian pepper… Mimosa….

These are all invasive trees in central Florida. An invasive plant is one that is out-competing native plants in natural areas. Invasive plants compete for nutrients, water, sunlight and of course, space. Sometimes they do it so well that our natives cannot keep up the pace. Removing them is imperative, but it must be done correctly.

Now is a great time to effectively remove an invasive tree. As our day length and temperatures decrease, trees are sending their resources down to the roots where they will be reserved during the dormant season. Because of this process, we can successfully remove these invasive organisms without repeat applications of herbicides. One method I will recommend for small trees is the cut stump treatment. Ask a professional tree trimmer or arborist for assistance with large and tall trees. It can be extremely dangerous for someone who lacks training. With cut stump, as the name implies, you are cutting down the tree to a stump. Immediately afterwards, apply herbicide to the stump. This will prevent the tree from attempting to produce suckers. The goal is for the phloem to transfer the herbicides throughout the tree. This is why fall is the ideal time. Nutrient reserves are being pushed down, and now carrying herbicides with them.

As you may know, we prefer not to use pesticides unless absolutely necessary. We want to prevent the herbicides from landing on native plants or persisting in the soil. You can accurately apply it to the invasive tree by using a thin paint brush. Mix your herbicide as the label recommends. Then, use the paint brush to apply it to the stump. Again, do this immediately after you cut down the tree before it tries to seal itself. For recommendations on herbicides, refer to our EDIS publication: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag245.

6 Comments on “Removing Invasive Trees in Central Florida

  1. I cut the Chinese tallows out of my yard and the next day the lawn started dying. Came back when I installed a live oak. Weird.

    • Hi Cindy. First, thank you for removing an invasive species!! There is still debate on the allelopathic effects of tallow on native vegetation. One paper noted that the tallow contains chemicals that inhibit growth of other plants, while another disproved it, but the study was specific to cypress trees. I’m happy that your lawn has returned. Maybe it just needed a friend to hang out with 😉 Thanks for checking in!

  2. We recently moved to a new house in Ocoee. The backyard has a fairly large camphor tree. My granddaughter loves to climb in it and, of course, it provides lovely shade in an otherwise barren backyard. However, I’ve found it on this invasive species list. It’s roots have begun to invade and cause damage to our neighbors’ sprinkler system and fence. Should this tree come down and something else be placed in our yard? Please give us advise, as there is some dispute about this in our family and we seek facts. Feel free to email regarding your recommendations.

    • Since the camphor tree is not on the Florida noxious weed list, you are not required to remove it. However, many organizations and institutions consider it an invasive species. If having it removed is in your financial budget, sure, have it taken down, but consult a certified arborist first. Sounds like there are several risky factors in your situation that doesn’t have an easy, straightforward answer.

  3. Hi,
    I moved into a house with a beautiful Chinese tallow. I hate to have it taken down, but it spreads like wild fire, the roots are growing under the house, and it is filthy when it sheds. The problem is the cost of removal. I live in Leesburg; do you know of an affordable tree removal service in my area?
    Also, should I have the stump grinded or just cut and apply herbicide?
    Thanks,
    Imre Hocker

    • Hi Imre,

      We cannot recommend specific companies even if I was familiar with the area. However, you can visit: http://www.treesaregood.org/ and find a local certified arborist in your city. Either stump grinding or hack/squirt methods are effective. If it’s a large tree though, you’ll be better off stump grinding. Be sure to spray or paint on the herbicide immediately after cutting.