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Polyalthia longifolia, False Ashoka, Indian Mast Tree

Posted by BHvdm none (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 11, 13 at 12:35

I live in the Middle East (Oman) and wish to plant a privacy screen on my property border. Because I don't want to lose much space in my own yard, I am considering to plants Ashoka (I think the one we have here is known as Polyalthia longifolia, False Ashoka, Indian Mast Tree (see pic which I copied off the web).

Can anyone help to explain the root system of this tree. The information I got is that I can plant this tree with spacing of 3-5 feet. I plan to plant them with 4feet spacing and no more than 3 feet from the boundary wall. Because I want to keep them so close to the boundary, I want to know whether the root system is invasive or whether it will be ok to have them this close.


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RE: Polyalthia longifolia, False Ashoka, Indian Mast Tree

BHvdm, I am not familiar with the tree but its classification suggests that the characteristics of its root system are shared by a large number of trees.
I suspect that your concern is that the roots will pose a problem on your property as well as on your neighbors'.
You can restrict the root system of a plant but you will restrict the above-ground growth as a consequence. You can compensate for this by providing additional nutrition. You will effectively be growing a bonsai plant in an almost soilless system.
Root elongation can be curtailed by placing a barrier (imagine hardware cloth or chicken mesh) near the outer limits of where you want the roots to reach. Roots will grow through the openings but as they increase in diameter they will be girdled by the metal framework and eventually break off. Roots and root hairs proliferate inside the barrier and in due course displace much of the soil therein. This will mean that you will have to provide fertilizer and perhaps water too, in order to have a presentable landscape.
Cities that provide tree-scapes, regularly replace a wedge of roots and soil with good soil only. New roots grow into this area and the process is continued. You can see that over the life of the tree, the whole root system may be replaced many times.
One (of many) links.


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RE: Polyalthia longifolia, False Ashoka, Indian Mast Tree

The root systems of trees generally takes on the shape of a giant pancake (disk) radiating from the base of the trunk. The depth of roots depends on the type of soil, moisture levels, and somewhat on the species of tree, BUT, most of the roots of any tree will be found in the top foot or two (.3 - .6 meters) of soil.

Besides providing moisture and nutrient requirements, roots serve at least one other critical role: they provide structural support! The wire mesh idea, described above, may theoretically sound like a good idea, but in reality is just a bad one. First, the mesh (even if made from galvanized wire) will last a relatively short time buried in the soil. Initially (if placed close to the base of the tree), it may provide some root control, but in the long run it will fail. If it did work for very long, it would probably limit the root system's ability to provide structural support.

I wouldn't plant any large tree very close to a "boundary wall" unless that wall was very solid and was built on a substantial foundation. Of course, it may take many years for the trees to cause problems for the wall, so that too may play a role in your decision.

Replacing "wedges of roots" for mature trees is a subject that I don't see much need for here, but let's just say there's far more to that kind of thing than is described above.


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