What trees do you dislike?

LibbyLizApril 16, 2007

I used to work at a nursery/greenhouse & heard the guys there say how bad certain trees are in upper UT; Russian Olive & Siberian Elm, & how so many people dislike them because they're so weedy.

Maybe there's something wrong with me because I like those trees. I don't think there are any trees in UT I dislike. I think UT could use a whole bunch more trees. But then I've lived in heavily forested states; Western WA & AR, & loved the scenery.

When we moved into our rental home on Hill AFB in the summer of 2004 the only tree we found on the property was some sort of Locust, possibly Honey, at the edge of the front or side lawn that we share with the neighbor.

So, wanting to contribute & make the area look nicer, hubby bought an Austrian Pine & I bought a Jacquemonti Birch & we planted both in our backyard last summer.

Beyond our backyard on the neighbor's side against the cement block wall that ends the property line is a tree that grew 6' since we moved in. I had it identified as a Siberian Elm.

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Siberian Elm: messy; grows fast from seedlings anywhere and everywhere, branches blow down in windstorms onto your home, vehicles, fences, gazebo; extremely difficult to cut down with chainsaw as the wood dulls the saw rapidly; suckers come up from stump; roundup doesn't faze it. We have 6 on this property. Had two cut down. We're still trying to kill of the suckers. We'll have to rent a backhoe to dig out the 4' diameter stumps.

Russian olive? When I was young and naive and had just moved to Montana I thought they were pretty, too. Since then, I've had to cut them down in pastures, chase cattle through them on horseback, watched them take over pasture when birds spread the seeds. I've had my skin and clothing ripped by their thorns more times than I care to count. When I arrived at work one weekend, one of the docs took one look at my skin and asked what on earth had happened. I told him I had been cleaning out russian olive in a pasture. He sighed and said he thought so, as that was the only thing he had ever seen that cut a person up so badly.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 5:11PM
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I don't care much for aspens. They don't do all that well in the valleys, but they send out lots of suckers all over the place.

Cottonwoods may be even worse. They tend to have branches break off if anybody even talks about wind, and they're terrible on allergies.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 5:22PM
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EWWW, I didn't know Russian Olive had thorns! Okay, I no longer like them. I don't like any greenery that can bite me.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 5:33PM
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songbirdmommy(UT 5)

There are alot of trees I love and alot of trees I do not like.
There are also trees I think are pretty, but do not want in my yard...
The female box elder tree is one of them....
You know those ugly flat black beetle like bugs with the reddish orange?
They only like one tree...
The female box elder...
and they only survive on them, so if you are like me with one on your property... guess what?
You will have a billion(no kidding) of them!

I love aspen.... up in the mountain, especially in the fall...One of the best drives in the world is up American Fork Canyon!

I think Ginkos are the nastiest trees!
I had a friend who had one in her front yard and the leaves and fruit would stain everything and it stinks worst than dog droppings stuck to your shoe!

Outside of Temple Square, near the Church office building, there is a Ginko. In the Fall, it is funny to sit on a bench from afar, and watch people as they walk under the tree.
They are walking along, then suddenly stop, sniff the air, then check the bottom of their shoes! LOL
Sometimes they think the dog poop must be invisible cause they start wiping(shuffling) their feet as they walk! LOL

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 10:29AM
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barclajo(z6 UT)

My thinking is there is that any tree in the wrong location is a problem, but that nearly any tree in the right location can be nice.

Russian olive and Siberian elm are annoying because they are soooo invasive. But a redeeming feature of these two trees is that they will tolerate just about anything. For those living very close to either of the two big lakes on the Wasatch front the Siberian elm, cottonwood, and willows may be some of their only options because of the high water table.
I think cottonwood can be a beautiful tree especially when the leaves flutter in the wind. However it grows far too big and fast for most suburban lots.

I dislike some trees not because of the specific characteristics of the tree but because they are planted in the wrong location. My neighborhood has heavy clay soil that is VERY alkaline, yet developers insist on planning the park strips with red maples. None of these red maples does well and even if they do establish themselves in the extremely poor soil by summer time they are all severely chlorotic. I like the red maple, and I think it far surpasses Norway maple in its beauty, but for heavy clay and alkaline soils planting a red maple is simply a waste of a tree.

I also wish we had a little more diversity in the trees planted along the Wasatch front. USU published an article citing the 16 most underused trees in Utah landscapes. I would love to see a few more Kentucky Coffee Trees, Japanese Lilac Trees and oaks planted instead of the all too common honey locust, purple plum, and cottonwood.

As for the Gingko I actually love this tree, you just have to be careful to get a male cultivar otherwise you get the stinky fruit. A male ginkgo in the fall is beautiful.

Here is a link that might be useful: 16 underused trees in Utah landscapes

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 3:19PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Barclajo, thanks for that link on underused trees! That's a great publication. I've often wondered if I could grow a redwood here -- our neighbors planted coastal redwoods in Sacramento, and I knew they couldn't survive our zone, but it's good to know the giant Sequoia can. I have just the roomy spot for it!

I also have some seeds for that Japanese tree lilac that someone on GW traded with me. I'd better get them planted and start raising a few of those.

In that seed trade, I also got some seeds for the "Chaste Tree" or Vitex agnus-castus. Has anyone grown this tree here in Utah? I read that they can be invasive, but they look cool, with purple flowers. I don't think I've ever seen one, except in photos online.

By the way, there are some red maple hybrids that do OK here. One is Autumn Blaze Maple (Acer freemanii). It's supposed to handle our alkaline soil well. I'm growing three, and two are absolutely outstanding. One seems chlorotic, but an extension agent told me it might be a magnesium deficiency, rather than iron. We'll see how it does this year (I treated the soil with iron last year).

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 5:45PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Or maybe I meant manganese deficiency above. I can never remember which! Anyway, I'll see if it responds to the iron and if not, it is likely the manganese or magnesium it needs.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 5:59PM
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Stevation--I think that chlorosis is a term that refers to the lack of chlorphyll in the leaves, and can be caused by deficiencies in several things, including iron, manganese and magnesium.

I don't know how you'd tell the difference between iron and manganese. In both cases, new leaves are most affected, and the veins may be green. Magnesium deficiency usually hits older leaves instead.

It's unlikely that your soil is lacking in any of those minerals. It's more likely that it's being caused by poor drainage and high pH.

Something that can take effect in a month or so is soil sulfur. You want to drill holes around the dripline with a bulb auger and fill them about halfway with soil sulfur, then fill with the dirt that used to be in the hole. The dripline is the most important part to hit, but if you can go a foot or so in either direction from the dripline, that would give a larger area of treated soil. If you do that, try to "stagger" the holes a bit so they're not all in a straight line.

For a long term solution, your best bet is to use as much organic matter as you can--compost, shredded bark, coffee grounds, whatever you can find. And keep doing it.

I have a silver maple that used to be bright yellow. A neighbor had a couple of aspens that were getting a little yellow. I started with soil sulfur and moved to adding lots of organic matter. My tree has been coming in green the past few years, and my neighbor's trees got worse each year until he gave up and cut them down this spring.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 8:47PM
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Because I live in the Southern Utah HEAT - I dislike any trees that don't provide heavy SHADE. We have lots of sunshine here but little water, and so its a total waste when people plant trees with weak shade. I don't like trees like Chitalpa, Desert Willow, Tamarisk, or Mesquite trees. They are 'made for the desert' though, and so they thrive. :)
I really like ash trees. Big beautiful and green and they don't suck water!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 11:56PM
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Do you have Pinion Pine down your way? When we visited Zion, Red Canyon & Bryce a couple weeks ago, I thought that's what I saw, but wasn't sure. It could have been Cedar or something else entirely. I'll try to remember, or ask hubby, where exactly we saw them.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 2:41PM
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I found this link again after reading another thread about trees in Utah. It's from the USU extension service and gives lots of advice about which trees are good and which are bad in Utah, and also why.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 12:11AM
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We do have Pinyon Pine - they are very common! Pinyon grows most commonly at elevations between 4,500 and 7,500 feet so you probably did see them while you were in Zion. St George's elevation is just below 3000 ft though so we drive uphill in the fall to hike and collect pine nuts from the pine cones to snack on (yum!)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 5:25AM
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I forgot to mention to you that we cut a Pinyon every year for our Christmas Tree. They smell really piney!
I also found this little blurb on the USU website, has some interesting facts about the pine nuts of Pinyon Pines:

The seeds are important wildlife food for several songbirds, quails, squirrels, chipmunks, black bears, and mule deer.
The seed crop of pinyon pine is valuable and is used in making candies, cakes, and cookies. The seeds were a staple food in American Indian diets and were eaten raw, roasted, or ground into flour. Seed crops are erratic, depending on moisture, and Indian migrations were determined by location of seed crops. Needles were steeped for tea. The inner bark served as starvation food for American Indians.
Today Indians still use the pitch as a caulking compound for watertight baskets and as glue for turquoise jewelry. The annual harvest of pinyon nuts exceeds 1 million pounds. This crop is second in commercial value only to pecans among the uncultivated nuts of the United States.
The tree is also desired as a Christmas tree because of its aromatic fragrance, and the wood is used for fuel and fence posts.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 6:41AM
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I didn't know St. George was lower in elevation! But then we didn't make it past Hurricane & the parks.

I've had pine nuts before & they're so gooooood! Is that the only pine they come from?

That's interesting information on the tree. Thanks for the education!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 1:38PM
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abq_bob(USDA 5a/SS 2A)

Those two trees are the worst! Russian olive just plain stink, literally, and they're nearly impossible to get rid of. Their disgusting smell totally sets off my allergies and asthma. Siberian Elm drop those damn seed pods all over, they're very hard on bare feet - they're also shallow rooted and suck up tons of water. I've got one in my back yard that came with the house - I can't wait to get rid of it for something else, like a red-leaf maple or some other easy to rake, non-dirty, shade tree.

Mulberry is another pest I don't like - another allergen and they reseed all over the place. They used them as street trees in my neighborhood, so I have to yank up a bunch of seedlings every spring. The only common plant I hate more than those above is pyrocantha, not really a tree, but it sure is an UGLY pest.

About the only thorny plant (besides roses) that I actually kind of like is the purple blooming honey locust - they're beautiful when in bloom. But again they reseed everywhere and have really nasty thorns.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 1:44PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Hey, it's almost time for the annual Siberian elm seed parade! These things are so prolific, you'll see the seeds snowing down on the roads and then blowing around as cars drive through the stuff. And the seeds are often sticky, too. This tree is a real mess. If you look at one right now, you'll see about a million seeds per linear foot of branch (OK, slight exaggeration!), and they're all getting ready to drop any day now.

This reminds me, though, to make my plug for a wonderful tree that often gets confused with Siberian elm. It's the Chinese Elm, or Lacebark Elm. I have one in my backyard, and when I first planted it, my neighbor questioned my sanity -- people around here typically call the Siberian Elm a Chinese Elm. They have similar leaves, but their bark and their shape are different. The Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) has a nice-looking, lacy bark that often flakes off a little. It has semi-weeping branches that are very graceful. And it will grow fast but has roots that won't heave pavement (which is somewhat rare among fast growers). In northern California, where I used to live, these trees would get 30' across in five years and would be nearly evergreen through the winter. I have one here by my patio, and it's eventually going to arch over the patio to provide shade for a dining area. It's been in the ground for five years and is probably 15-20' wide now.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 2:43PM
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dereks(6 Utah)

Your right, Steve. I have always called these messy trees Chines Elms. Now I know they are Siberian Elms. These trees surround my neighborhood and what a mess they are. The seeds sprout everywhere and on anything they can stick to.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 11:11PM
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zachslc(6 Salt Lake City)

BOX ELDER! I am begging Utah Power to cut mine down.

I have a littleleaf Linden against the street. It is a nice tree except for the seedlings I have to dig up all spring.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 5:27PM
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zobeed(z5 UT)

Aspens! They're horrid things when grown in the valley. We had one in our backyard and it destroyed everything. There are HUGE roots runing through our entire backyard. And the shoots were everywhere. Needless to say, we had the tree removed a couple of years ago and have not regretted doing so.

Another one we have that I don't like is the honey locust. We have one in the front yard and one in the back. My husband loves them, but they're messy and junk up everything either with their seeds or their leaves in the fall.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 3:37PM
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One thing to remember with honeylocusts, they seed more profusely when they are stressed. Especially if they aren't getting enough water, they feel like they need to reproduce themselves and will put out more pods than normal. A healthy honeylocust has very few pods and is a fantastic lawn tree.

I agree with most of the trees mentioned before: siberian elm, box elder, and aspen are extremely messy trees. So do yourself and your neighbors a favor and stay away from these. There are some alternatives. The Zelkova is a gorgeous tree, very similar in habit to the Siberian Elm, but without the messy seedlings. There is an aspen variety called Swedish columnar aspen that is considerably less messy (although it still drops some seedlings) that may substitute for the regular quaking aspen.

One other tree that I would add to the list is a paper birch. It gets more insects than any other specie I've tried to grow. The beautiful white bark just isn't worth the problems.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:26PM
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I think I have every one of these in my little patch of Central City. And the seeds, elm I think, paper my garden inches deep. First year, I didn't know it would happen. Second year, I missed the timing. This year I put down netting, but they went right through. Next year, I need a fine mesh to keep them away.

Every one of them sprouts. Hosts of elm seedlings. At least the Tree of Heaven sprouts are later in the summer, and don't compete as much with early seeds.

Anyone found a nice fine garden mesh to keep these little intruders out?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 5:03PM
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