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Uses of Brazilian Pepper Tree waste/debris  RSS feed

 
Doug Robertson
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I am working with a piece of property in East Central Florida that was an old orange grove and was overgrown with Brazilian Pepper trees. I cleared a lot of pepper trees out to plant some new trees (citrus, peach, plum, apple, mango, lychee, pineapple). Now I have piles of brush and I am considering options for their uses. Some of the logs are a foot in diameter or so but most are less than 4-6 inches. I've read about biochar, hugelkultur, and wood chip covering. Anyone out there have any experience with Brazilian Pepper Trees and these methods? The trees have a substance like poison ivy when freshly cut. Is this an issue for reusing them in or on the ground or does aging eliminate any problems with that. The brush piles are well aged.

Also, does anyone have any experience with getting chipped wood from a tree service and then getting Brazilian Pepper Tree in the load? Is there much of an issue with new trees growing from the mulch?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Doug
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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In Hawaii, the tree is called Christmasberry. It's a real scourge because absentee landowners allow it to take over the land. It crowds out everything else. On top of it, it's very drought hardy, so it survives quite well. Even when totally defoliated by the croton caterpillar, the tree comes back robustly.

Cutting it up calls for caution for two reasons. One, as you noted some people react to the tree. And two, the limbs twist about and intertwine making chain sawing dangerous.

Here we use the chips as mulch. I had been warned that the chips were phytotoxic, but that hasn't proven to be the case. I have seen dozens of people using the chips as mulch with absolutely no problem.

I know of several people who have buried the smashed up trees then planted bananas atop them with no problem.

Cutting the trees to the ground doesn't kill them in Hawaii. They resprout. So people will either paint the stump with roundup or block the regrowth in some fashion. On my farm I have found that laying a large square of old metal roofing atop the stump (cut flush to the ground) then holding it in place with lava rock will do the job. But I have to leave the stump covered that way for months. The root is hard to kill.

I've never tried making biochar out of it but I don't see any reason why not.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
Doug Robertson
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I know what what you mean about the challenge of cutting them down. The branches are twisted in every direction and to add to the fun we have grape vines growing in the trees to add another level of difficulty in getting then to fall where you plan. For a small tree one needs to use an abundance of caution when trying to get them on the ground.

The tree seems to hold a high percentage of water; more so than any other tree i've messed with. We've learned just to cut them and let them sit there for a few months (if they weren't in the way) and once dryed out some they were much lighter to handle (but it seems a little harder to cut).

I don't seem to notice any problems with the skin reaction with the dried out wood so I was wondering if dried wood chips would pose any problems with phytotoxicity (not sure if the two issues are related).

I've been able to kill most stumps with an application of herbicide if I can get on within about 5 minutes of the cut. But some stumps are still trying to hang on. I'll have to try your method.

Thanks for the info.

Doug
 
David Dakota
Posts: 19
Location: Currently eastern coast of Florida/zone 10a
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I feel your pain. I live on the treasure coast here in FL and have a half acre of property that I want to turn into a forest garden but it is over run by Brazilian Peppers. I am slowly making my way through them but I'm having the same troubles. Guess it's just a matter of being more persistent than the tree.

If you find anything that works out please let me know.
 
Roxanne Stragier
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Brazilian pepper does make excellent firewood...
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Good luck with the cutting them down!
Once you do get the to a stump at ground level, you can use a chain saw tip to make a hollow in the center of the stump then cover it with tin as Su Ba Suggests.
The hollow will allow rotting to begin since the stump will leak some of its held water and that will pool in that hollow space you made.
These trees will come back if they get any sun at all on the remains.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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Not with this particular species, but I've had success dealing with stump sprouts by mulching with carpets for a year or two. The stumps sprout but the sprouts can't get any light and can't force their way through the carpets....which need to be laid with plenty of overlap. If the trees only come up from the actual stump, rather than from all along the roots like the sweetgums I was dealing with, then a piece over each stump might work. After the sprouts are all dead, move the carpets on to a new area and plant away.....
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Location: Volant, PA
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Working at a children's camp in leesburg FL we split some for firewood to get rid of it.....several children had respiratory itchiness issues when it was burned, they had no clue what was going on, but I pulled the plug on using it for fires. So, do be careful with it in all uses as you never know if you neighbor might get issues as you burn.
 
Doug Robertson
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Smoke from burning was one of my concerns when looking at my options for the trees i was cutting down. I read it could be an issue. I am hoping the longer it sits and drys maybe the less impact there might be if I try something like biochar. So far I've tried hugels and banana circles and just left it in brush piles. I may try to rent a chipper and go through some of the piles this winter once it cools off some.
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Location: Volant, PA
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How about a rocket stove or a TLUD this way you are burning much cleaner and even burning the wood gas??
 
james Apodaca
Posts: 57
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I've got vacant residential lots next to mine overgrown with Brazilian Peppers. The canopy extends 15-20ft onto my property on both sides..
I lop the foliated branches off and feed them through my wood chipper to mulch my paths.

I understand wanting to rid yourself of them (especially on large properties).. they go nuts. I haven't found an eradication practice that I'm comfortable with trying yet.
Other than smothering it out as stated above. I thought about topping the smaller stumps with black trashcans or wrapping with black trash bags for a few seasons.

I'm actually attempting to manage the larger ones that I couldn't possibly wrap.. I've cut 4-5 trees down along my property line to allow sun into my garden.
Brazilian Peppers, as long as their shoots don't need to seek light in the under-story, grow straight and FAST - make easy fodder for the wood chipper. So I'm attempting
to leave them alone for the season and before they flower I should be able to harvest a bunch of easily chippable canes to add to the compost pile or refresh garden pathways.

It has left me in the same predicament though - unable to process a large volume of logs and branches which, as I move to the largest of the trees, are only getting larger in diameter.

I need a bigger wood chipper (mine is only 4hp 3" capacity) but that is cost prohibitive.

The few ideas i've come up with I can't possibly put the effort into as I don't own the property next door.. So making keyhole hugel suntraps, lining desired pathways, building raised beds, et.al. are all out of the question at the moment. Currently it's just a habitat for snakes and lizards.

Oh yeah, and I've been itching for weeks.
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Frank fank
Posts: 12
Location: Indian River County FL
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Hello,

Realize is an older thread but figured I could add information useful to someone.

In regards to receiving wood chips from tree trimming services with Brazil Pepper plants in them. It really depends on the time of year they are chipped. In Spring to late Summer it will be fine because the Brazil Pepper sets seed in Fall to Winter. So as long as you get your chips in Spring/Summer which is better anyway due to lots of green new growth in the mix you should be fine. I have personally gotten hundreds of yards of wood chips mostly oak and pine mixed with brazil pepper no problems what so ever.

Also even though the Brazil Pepper is considered invasive/nuisance species it can actually be beneficial if properly controlled. The bees absolutely love the flowers it produces so it is a great pollinator attractor. If you google brazil pepper it also has several medicinal uses of which I cannot personally attest for but like most invasive/nuisance species they are just completely misunderstood. If the plant didn't serve any benefit to nature it would not be spread so prolifically by nature.

In all of our attempts to master nature we need to step back and realize we are a part of nature. It is a force with in us. As such we should focus on mastery of ourselves and that force within us to create an outward expression of ourselves our nature in our own personal environments. Gardening is one's artistic expression of nature. We need to change our view on nature in order to heal ourselves and our environment.

FL
 
Beverley Goode
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Hi. James can you explain why you are itching in connection to the pepper tree. We just removed a big one which was over our hen's cage because we suspected it may be the source of birdmite. Also the roots were lifting the tiles around our neighbour's pool and it was seeming to destroy the soil in my veggie garden with the roots taking the moisture, and the leaves and berries seeming to reduce soil quality. We have quite a bit of mulch from the roots being mulched. It is mid-summer here in Australia - does this mean that it would be safe to use in woodchip garden, which I hope to experiment with. Love some advice about this - what is best type of woodchip to use etc.
 
Thomas Wright
Posts: 21
Location: Florida and Colorado
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Some people it seems to affect more than others. My girlfriend and I chopped down and mulched one of these from along our canal, and I developed a minor rash that went away pretty quickly. She wasn't so lucky, and everywhere she handled the mulch with exposed skin broke out in a serious rash and swelling. It was so bad that we ended up going to the emergency room. It took her a good week to recover from that. She handled more of the mulch than I did, while I handled the bulkier pieces and breaking them down into sizes that could be fed into the chipper. It could be the sap that causes the rash. The mulch was used around trees and in a walk row, and there didn't seem to be any adverse affects to the plants.
 
Glenn Darman
Posts: 29
Location: NSW Australia
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I wonder if the Brazilian Pepper tree is the same as the Californian Pepper Tree's we have at our Place as they do look similar.The bee's love 'em down our way and there are literally thousands of hives in our area and some days our trees just hum with the buzz,we cut off several sections and place them in the veggie patch to attract the bees for pollinating and it works a treat.The funny thing is that the bees are all over the trunk/bark and not necessarily on any flowering buds...go figure.I like gnarly trees.

Glenn.
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