RipSteakfaceMay 12, 2014

Hello all,
We are building on land in the Boerne area. The land has a lot of trees on it - live oaks, white oaks, "cedar" (of course), elms, and hackberrys.

My question is about a hackberry about 10 feet from our build site. It is large and good looking. It is leaning slightly away from where the house would be. I see some different information on them, but I'm interested in the experience of others in this area. Would you keep it?
thank you

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Hackberry is considered a junk tree and break easily, so they can be dangerous near structures. BUT, I love them. The berries attract birds, few pests and diseases seem to bother them, they grow quickly, and provide good shade.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 9:45PM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

We had a couple in our front yard for years. Great tree for several types of birds, butterflies, and ... mistletoe. There are at least a couple things to consider. First, mistletoe really likes these trees and is hard to eradicate. If/when it eventually weakens the main limbs, it can endanger anything beneath them. I'd probably not try to save a Hackberry already infested with much (any?) mistletoe if it were close to a building, over a driveway, etc. Dripping from Hackberry aphids is another potential issue. Not much of a problem over lawns or beds, but can make a mess on vehicles, furniture, or other items that will be under the canopy. Washes off fairly easily, so mostly an inconvenience, but something to be aware of.

This post was edited by bostedo on Wed, May 14, 14 at 0:24

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:14AM
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Thank you for the responses. Is it true that very little will grow beneath them due to chemicals they release?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 8:58AM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

Not exactly. Both St. Augustine and Bermuda did fine under the Hackberries as long as they could get enough light. We also grew various bedding flowers under them without problems. But then we never let the leaves accumulate. Believe Hackberry's allelopathic chemicals are released through the leaves, so would only be a problem in untended or wildscape spaces were the fallen leaves are left in place for any length of time. Even then, think they suppress germination more than affecting established plants; we used a mulching mower on the leaves and they never seemed to damaged the established lawn.

Edit - link gives gist of longer studies on hackberry allelopathy that should be available via search

Here is a link that might be useful: Are hackberries harmful to other trees?

This post was edited by bostedo on Tue, May 13, 14 at 11:45

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:37AM
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We should celibrate the Hackberry annualy on the hottest day of summer. Were it not for Hackberry that birds planted,a lot of much needed shade would be absent. As you travel accross Tx take note of the large number of homes with 1 or 2 Hackberrys and nothing else in the yard.
Back to the origional question,10 feet is closer than desired for any type tree. I agree with pros and cons stated already with the possible exception of controling mistletoe.
If you decide to keep the tree,inspect it every winter and remove mistletoe. If it's on a limb you can sacerfice,remove the limb. If it's on the trunk or limb you can't spare loosing,remove the mistletoe as close as possible to the wood knowing it will reestablish 90% of the time. Keep in mind the tree will fall some day in the near future. Chances are it will be huge by the time it falls.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:39PM
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As mentioned these trees are considered junk trees. They are fast growing, but the top breaks out if you have a major ice storm.

We had a lot of these in our last neighborhood. It was the main tree type. The trees looked ok for a little while, but the construction around them apparently disturbed their root system. My neighbors often found that they had to hire people to come in and cut down limbs and whole trees a year or two after they bought. That gets to be expensive and not so pretty. Personally, I would build the house and then plant some nice trees during the next desirable growing season.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 3:25PM
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I pull hundreds of hackberry seedlings that come from the neighbors trees from early spring to July. Its the worst tree I have to deal with in weeding, they are fast growing & prolific coming up thick & everywhere. Thats one reason they are considered nuisance trees, especially in Dallas or anywhere north of there, they are good at quickly creating messy overgrown property lines if not regularly weeded & maintained. I always see them coming up in the older part of the city & alleyways, sidewalks etc. all over the place, looks like slum-lord crap if neglected. Very weedy trees. They sucker badly if trimmed, are difficult to kill & roots can cause foundation problems.

So.....it depends on your situation but I wouldn't recommend one close to the house.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 4:47PM
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Thanks to all who have posted. I think we will need to cut this guy down. I'm looking forward to planting some nice trees around. I think they will do well because it seems the ground is fertile. I'm going to try and find some bigtooth maples and chinese pistache.

After I cut it down would you recommend treating the ground for any lingering suckers or sprouts?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 11:52PM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

TexasRanger10, Those bird planted seedlings are another thing I don't miss. We probably had as many squirrel planted oak seedlings scattered around the yard... just not in the narrow spaces between the brick wall and pool/AC equipment, in a line along the fence at the back of the border, or other discrete spots favored by the birds where the Hackberries could get VERY well established before being notice.

RipSteakface, Normally no need to treat the ground. We mostly got suckers at the root collar and they were pretty easy to deal with by cutting off and brushing on some herbicide. It was not sending up any new shoots by the time we ground the stump out at a year.

Roots shouldn't send up many elsewhere unless you disturb them. Don't know if grinding the stump below the root collar at the time the tree is removed can cause it to sucker more in other places. Maybe someone else knows. We gave ours at least a year to age and die off before removing the stump at and below the collar, but suspect grinding it out right away shouldn't cause much trouble.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 1:19AM
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There is a stump next door that is three years past the removal. Its still putting out suckers but they never ground it down. I finally hopped over the fence & trimmed off all the suckers since it was forming a big bush. Now I spray it from my side with herbicide. Its getting weaker. There is another that was trimmed some years ago, same thing there but its finally given up the ghost. (I think) There is a whole line of them on the other side of my property that came up volunteer. I wish I could go back in time & get rid of them when they were saplings. There was a wooden fence up then & I was also unaware of how the tree behaves, now I know better about this aggressive tree. I keep the volunteers cleared out on ninja raids which is a lot of fun if you can relate. I'd give anything to have them all gone. They come up all around the guys house & are ignored, its a real visual nightmare over there between those and the privet.

These trees are able to come up in any completely shaded space between buildings, places like downtown between two or three story structures and grow into mature trees, you always see them taking over low income areas which looks depressing. In very hot dry areas like west Texas or Arizona where its hard to grow a large tree the aggressiveness becomes an asset.

So....it depends where a person lives because it can be a pretty tree. There is a single old specimen in the park up the street that is quite pretty. Its planted where its mowed regularly in a wide grassy area.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Wed, May 14, 14 at 16:38

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 2:09PM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

I'm going to try and find some bigtooth maples and chinese pistache.

Don't want to take this too far off topic, but be sure to consider the improved cultivars when selecting a chinese pistache. We bought a generic male tree about 16 years ago while it was displaying good fall color. The reason for male was to avoid the fruits that can make a mess and might eventually render this tree invasive in some areas. The fall color is a nice yellow/red, but very short lived - only a few days from color to leaf-fall. Many others in our immediate area hold their color much, much longer. Our tree is great, but I'd probably look for a 'Keith Davey' if planting another today; it's a cloned male selected for more predictable red color performance. There may be even better improved cultivars since I last checked into it.. not familiar with 'Pearl Street', for example. Some of these males can produce enough pollen to turn dark colored cars yellow in the spring, though its "allergenicity" is supposed to be low.... which seems like MD-speak meaning you're unusual (special?) if it just happens to bother you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chinese Pistache status (Texas)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 9:46PM
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