Chinese Tallow

gulfportgardener(MS 9)February 25, 2007

I need a fast growing tree that will provide at least a little shade. I have fond memories of "popcorn" trees(Chinese Tallow) from my childhood and had thought to plant one of those but noticed I don't see any around (I grew up 100 miles inland and they seem to be more common there). Knowing that when you don't see a certain species around there is usually a good reason, I started doing a little research. It seems they have fallen out of favor and have even been added to the list of invasive species in my state. Anyone else had any experience with this species? Am I going to be sorry if I plant it and am I going to be villified for introducing it into the neighborhood? Any other suggestions for what I might grow instead? Man, it is sunny and warm and I have got the "bug" bad today?

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You will be very sorry if you plant it. Invasiveness aside, they are extremely messy (they are always dropping something, whether it be pollen, pods, seeds, large branches in the wind, etc.). They are also very short lived (25 years is all you can expect). Do not introduce it to your neighborhood.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 2:37PM
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I advise against planting them. I have cleared over forty of them from my woodlands and I am still fighting the sprouts. They are so invasive in the southeast that you can actually be charged a fine or serve jail time in Florida for planting or selling them. Red Maple would be the best native substitute, just make sure you don't buy one that is root bound.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 3:09PM
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I have never owned one, but the man across the street had a hugh one in his front yard. I loved to listen to the leaves blow in the wind. Our new neighbor had it cut down as soon as he moved into the home. I think it had something to do with its roots. My husband was very happy when it was cut down, since the leaves blew into our yard. Barbra,

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 7:11PM
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They're pretty bad here in south Alabama, but the worst I have seen is in coastal Louisiana along I-10. There are wetlands there that have been completely taken over by Tallow trees.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 8:06PM
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greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

Originally Kudzu was introduced as cattle fodder and to hold the soil. I think Chinesse Tallow was introduced with similar good intentions. And Japanese honeysuckle---And to make it even worse, if possible, if you were to find one for sale, only some of them have the admittedly beautiful fall foliage color they are admired for, by some anyway. All the fence rows are over-run with them. I spend as much time pulling 'chicken tree' seedlings as any other weed in my yard. Nice branching pattern. Shame they're so gawd-awful invasive!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 11:22PM
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I like them. Quick shade and pretty fall foilage. Easy to kill if you want to get rid of them. Round up into a small drilled hole in the trunk or a pre-emergence herbacide. There are no tallows to be found only seeds.

The only other considered non invasive is a cottonless cottonwood. Personally I would prefer the tallow. I was a builders tree for years. It will never be eradicated only controlled. The new invasive here is the Mimosa. It is everywhere along the road and growing in the water.

I would use a pecan tree if possible. Just do not plant close to the house. High winds and tall trees make for a crunched house. I am doing Banyan Trees. Do not know how cold it gets in winter there. They are my favorite on the Tx coast.

I like invasives they will almost grow on a rock.

Almost forgot the bald Cypess is another outstanding tree and is quite beautiful.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 12:26AM
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Shumard oak is a fast growing oak with good fall color that is readily available at nurseries. Tulip poplar is also a fast growing tree.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 1:21AM
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lindseyrose(8b/9 Texas)

Please, please, please don't do it. I have one in my yard; in fact, the developers of my neighborhood put one in every yard, along with a pine. Both are so unbelieveably messy. And yes, the tallow is terribly invasive. I see it all along the roadsides on undeveloped spots on highway 6, for example. Miles from places where these trees were purposefully planted. They force out native vegitation, and I can't tell you one truly redeeming quality about this species from personal experience. Their growth form is ugly, the branches make little twisty twigs that always drop on the lawn, they drop an unholy amount of trash (flowers/pollen in the spring, seeds in the summer/fall, leaves in the fall/winter, seed shells seems like all the time (they're sharp and stick into the soles of your shoe).

I'm sorry for probably repeating what everyone has said (I didn't read the other replies yet) but I know there are many more trees that would serve you better. If I find a link to a list of good trees recommended for this area, I will post it for you. I wish we could have chosen our own trees, since clearly the stupid developers had no forsight nor interest in native species or longevity of sturdy, healthy trees.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 2:29PM
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Someone mentioned Mimosa, beautiful tree, but it is horrible to deal with. I'm constantly pulling up it's babies... if Tallow is anything like it then you have a long road ahead.

As Jim said Bald Cypress is a nice tree and grows very fast. But beware of the knees, you will not be able to mow around the trees. The knees are strong enough to bend your mower blades.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 8:13PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Please, please, plant anything but a tallow tree!!
I, too, have driven through south Louisiana and seen how they've taken over the wetlands - just horrible! After the hurricane, when much more sunlight hit the ground on my property, they started coming up everywhere - I didn't even try to count how many I pulled up. They're just as invasive as kudzu, Japanese honeysuckle, Chinese privet, and Japanese climbing fern - notice how our southern invasives all come from Asia?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 11:52PM
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I can hardly write this for trying not to get emotional. It took the help of a volunteer crew and many years for us to remove the 10 acres of Chinese Tallow that was choking our wetlands. I won't repeat what so many of you wrote so well. Invasive plants don't stay in the yard of the person who enjoys them. They are like a disease, or a form of pollution that gets stronger and multiplies on its own.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 9:04AM
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NO! No Tallow, it is a HUGE pest on the coast, is sucking up the water from swamps and wetlands. Not so easy to get rid of either.
Plus they attract asps!
Plant a hackberry, they are native, grow fast, provide good shade and food for butterflies and birds.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 3:39PM
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gulfportgardener(MS 9)

I will just keep my good memories from my childhood and plant something else. Thanks for all the emotional responses:)

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 8:53PM
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Everyone is more than correct on the damned Tallow tree. Best history is that George Washington imported them for their oil. I wish he had never done that. I spend way to much time and effort tring to eradicate that blasted tree from wetland mitigation sites. It is able to reproduce at two years and can produce 200,000 seeds in its first yeat. Once established the only way to control it is high concentration of Garlon(3 or 4) depending on application method or injection. Studies have shown that fire can help germinate dormant seeds for 5 years. The Tallow as with its brother the Chineese Privit are the cause of much grief here in South Alabama. However there simple to control compared to Cogon Grass...

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 8:10PM
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lindseyrose(8b/9 Texas)

I wonder how much it costs to take one out of a lawn? That is the first *big* landscape project I want to hire out (after fixing drainage problems) on my lot, but it will probably be a while.

I haven't been surprised to see tree services take down multiple trees in my neighborhood in the 13 months we've lived here. I just hope it won't be TOO long before I get to hire one of them.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 12:44AM
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Removal is only the first step, you must also Kill the remaing stump and roots or it will continue to grow, and grow. Ask your tree guys of when it is cut down they can spray the stump with a 50% concentration of Garlon 3. Garlon is a restricted use herbicide that can keep the tallow from resprouting, but it needs to be applied right after the tree has been cut. If they are not able call a local forester they sould be more than happy to help you out since they battle the plage each day.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 7:48AM
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Chinese Tallow is not a huge tree and the wood is soft and easy to cut. I would think it would be an easy job for a tree company and shouldn't cost too much. You could just make sure you're home when they cut it and then run out there and paint the stump with Brush-B-Gone right after they are finished. However, if the tree is in the middle of a big lawn the roots will eventually exhaust themselves if the sprouts are continuously mowed with the lawn (if the stump is grinded).

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 10:48AM
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Please remember any fast growing tree will snap like a match stick (Pine trees) in a storm!!


    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 12:26AM
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Location: Southwest Louisiana

I let a tallow grow in my background near my back living room window three years ago. The tree is now 20ft tall, covering 1/3 of my back roof with morning shade and saving me a lot on my utility bills. I just planted two more in my front yard to protect the forward windows from afternoon sun. We were struck by huricane Rita two years ago in Lake Charles. The tallow's upper limbs broke off rather quickly, saving the house because the oak trees in my neighboorhood resisted the high winds and as a result the entire tree fell on the houses, damaging them with wind driven rain.

The tallow is a great tree for those seeking energy efficiency. Underneath the tallow, plant your desired oak or pecan tree seedlings. Once the seedling is rooted cut back your tallow periodically to provide light for the seedling. Once the seedling is tall enough, cut down the soft wood tallow, the roots may still exist but the energy savings the tree gave you for the past five years will make you glad to put the effort into root removal.

Pruning tallows is very easy, find a limb and pull. I use this method to encourage upward growth of my shade tallows. The limbs can then be broken into smaller pieces for a new compost landfill.

Sorry for the contradiction, but cheap methods of shading our homes to save electricity beat out long term environmental impact. Remember, a full sized tallow tree does scrub the atmosphere for CO2! I also have a thriving bird population and my dogs seem happy that my pool is cooler (another side effect of the shade).

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 12:08PM
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UH, no, instant gratification does not trump "long term environmental impact".

Look at Kudzu, great for preventing erosion, and for eating houses. HUGE HUGE pest.

Nutria, escaped from Avery island during a hurricane, great for a fur coat but HORRID for the environment, displace native animals, eat crops.

Purple loosestrife, beautiful pond plant, hugely invasive, quickly destroying wetlands across the country.

Water hyacinth, beautiful, cleans water wonderfully, provides great shade in ponds, lakes. TAKES over and is a hazard to boats, people, wildlife, has caused loss of ENTIRE ecosystems.

The list goes on and on and on.
You should also be aware that some plants are illegal to OWN, SELL, TRADE OR BUY or PROPOGATE. You can be fined depending on what you are doing, IE: PLANTING MORE OF A PEST PLANT!
Thank goodness not everyone thinks they have more rights than the rest of the planet! Put in something environmentally correct to shade your dang house. I have hackberries-native, mulberry-native and pecan-native shading my house. Don't have to plant anything else. During a hurricane with 200 mph winds almost any tree is going to go. During one of our prolonged tropical storms a few years ago tallow berry/chinaberry trees fell over all over the island. One fell on a van just a block from my house, one took out our fence and another fell & blocked a major intersection here. There aren't any HUGE trees on this island!
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 3:36PM
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