woodland newbie w/? re: Ailanthus altissima etc

adidas(6/7)May 21, 2012

Hello,

I recently moved to a wooded area near Appalachian Trail in Northern VA (Mt. Weather area). The property is covered (90% of all understory) w/Lindera benzoin (spicebush) which has been growing for over 20 yrs as some of it is at least 12ft. The previous owners put hay down for whatever reason and this seems to have sprouted. There are tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) seedlings EVERYWHERE and some other extremely invasive species...could be brazilian pepper...I'm not sure. There are a few pawlonias but these don't seem to have moved much from the parent tree.

My question is: how would you control the invasives? It seems that the trees of heaven have been cut repeatedly but continue to grow....short of digging thousands of these things up, is there any other way to kill them? Would mulching the area stop the hay from growing or should I get a cow :( ?

One more question...I'm trying to figure out what type of forest this is....we are at about 1200ft, spicebush is dominant...trees are tulip poplar, paw paws, oaks, very few maples, some ashes...oddly enough NO evergreens! No pines, no cedars, no holly...I've never seen this in a woodland before! Wildflowers are Jacks, hepatica, LOTS of black and blue cohosh, rue, bloodroot.

Thanks for ANY input!

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ncrescue

I found out too late that you are supposed to kill this tree BEFORE cutting down. The root system,, apparently spreads out and will sprout if the mother plant dies. I cut a large one and then had sprouts all over the field for two years...pulled them out but still occasionally find a few.

I am not a big fan of chemical control, but sometimes that is a last resort. Your area sounds lovely, so I know you want to get rid of as many invasives as you can. I still have Japanese honeysuckle in spite of trying for 10 years to kill it. Some things will always be with us, I am afraid. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 8:53AM
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esh_ga

If you could keep a small squeeze bottle of herbicide, you could go through with clippers and snip/squeeze the sprouts on a regular basis. You really just need a drop on such small things. You can probably get a small squeeze bottle at a craft store.

Obviously the area is very moist to support the spicebush. I looked up in the book "wildflowers and plant communities of the southern appalachian mountains and piedmont" (tim spira) and it could be what is defined as "rich cove forest" - it has the trees you mention, the lack of pines and the wildflowers you mention.

You must get pretty good rainfall?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 8:27AM
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adidas(6/7)

Thank-you both for your helpful replies. I'm not big on chemical control either but the brazilian pepper like things are even worse than the tree of heaven sprouts and I may be driven to insanity in my efforts to eradicate them...I am already seeing them growing to great heights when I'm trying to get to sleep at night!

So, if I were to go the chemical route what would either of you recommend? I like the sound of the squeeze bottle...you mean something like an elmers glue bottle as opposed to a squirt bottle...am I right?

Yes, the ground stays fairly moist but only because the spicebushes are so dense! The spicebushes in the open sun w/no shade at all seem to be the greatest berry producers. We do get quite a bit of rain...though this is my first summer living here so I'm not sure if this is the norm. Last fall I would say we were in fog 75% of the time...it was beautiful! It is definitely humid! Rich cove forest sounds right...thanks for the info...I will look for that book!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:16PM
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esh_ga

Yes, just a tiny bottle so that only a drop comes out at a time - that way you can apply it right to the cut and not spill extra into the environment. You only need to put it on the area just inside where the bark grows - that is the living layer. The inner woody area is not alive so no need to apply there on the bigger cuts. You can also scratch the bark and apply some there.

I would get the one labeled for "woody" plants. Brush B Gone is one, but Round Up also makes one (often sold as poison ivy killer because poison ivy is a woody plant).

I do love spicebush - it's nice just to run your hand over it and get the smell. Be sure to look for the caterpillars this summer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Spicebush swallowtail

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:56PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Tree of H*** is more like it. I think it is one of several invasive plants that deserves chemical control....

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 5:03PM
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ncrescue

My daughter gave me a bottle with a foam top, culled from what people used long ago for stamps, before the preglued ones. However, it is so small that I don't use it much. A friend who has a meadow uses a paint brush on the end of a stick so that she doesn't have to bend over...liquid chemical in a small bucket...but she doesn't have the animals I have. My dog would try to drink the stuff, so I cannot use that option. Again, good luck!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 7:30PM
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hankg_gw

Being a neighbor, I have been following your post. Ailanthus is tough. We use chemicals, cows, mowing, and getting used to our failures. Hank

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 9:50AM
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