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tree of heaven  RSS feed

 
Posts: 7
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My neighbor has a very large canopy tree which shades my home some, and dropped seeds all over. I have to pull up seedlings constantly and I just can't ever get them all. I noticed that they smell bad. After searching invasive plant lists for my area (central Utah) I finally figured out they are "Tree of Heaven" Ailanthus altissima. I really want them gone, but couldnt figure out a strategy until i figures out the type of tree. Rather than pulling them up the rest of my life, I read up a little in  other threads, where there were suggestions for a) planting competitive plants which resist it's alleopathic nature [thankfully, this hasn't seemed to affect my garden on my side of the fence] b) innoculating with fungus (oyster and lion's mane) and c) introducing silk moths which feed on the plant.

I'm wondering if anyone has had success with these approaches, longer-term? I'm curious if there is some way I can target the seed samaras, or maybe covertly change the growing conditions (flood my neighbors yard, etc.) to stunt it's growth. It's obviously old (probably from the 70s when my house was built), and I read they don't live very long anyway, but I'd like a way to suppress seeding and seedling growth. It sucks because my neighbor let's it go, so he's got 20 smaller versions all below this thing on his side, and some grow through the fence and break it.. when this thing dies, I just hope it doesn't fall on my house. I thought that maybe heavy mulching and planting I could out-compete the seedlings but they don't seem to care much.

Thanks
 
Zach Simmons
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Another thought I had was maybe I can put some funds spawn on the end of a blow gun dart and send a few into the trees on his side.. he'd never know
 
Posts: 70
Location: New Zealand
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Zach Simmons wrote:Another thought I had was maybe I can put some funds spawn on the end of a blow gun dart and send a few into the trees on his side.. he'd never know



Until he joins permies forums...!  I guess you have discussed the matter with the neighbour, you'd think there might be some compromise possible.
 
Posts: 326
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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Maybe he'd like the tree gone, especially for free. As said before; talk to him. He may appreciate your helping him cut it down.



 
pollinator
Posts: 231
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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I have this exact same problem!  Although I thought the tiny seedlings were coming from my pecan tree so I'm glad to learn what it is.  I see a large branch  hanging over my fence (gone tomorrow)  as well as a giant one (70 feet??)  down the street.  Thankfully the seedlings are easy to rake or pull out when they're small but I have plenty of other things to do with my time!  No chance the owners will do anything because it's a rental.  I love that you're researching and000000 thinking creatively...hope you come up with something :)  
 
Zach Simmons
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So some interesting things I found when researching use of the Cynthia Moth for control:

They say almost exclusively Ailanthus, but...
http://tpittaway.tripod.com/silk/s_cyn.htm
Larvae have also been found on Forsythia, ashes (Fraxinus), common walnut (Juglans regia), golden rain (Laburnum anagyroides), sweet bay (Laurus nobilis), privets (Ligustrum), Magnolia, Prunus, castor-oil plant (Ricinus), elders (Sambucus), whitebeams (Sorbus), lilacs (Syringa) and many other deciduous trees and shrubs.
https://bugguide.net/node/view/328125
"Food: Many trees and shrubs, including ailanthus (tree of heaven, paradise tree), birch, ash, elm, alder, wild cherry, maple, lilac, willow, and apple"

I have labernum, lilac, sambucas, prunus and apple among my plantings.. so I'm on the fence about it now, though one of the sites above also says " females are very attached to the tree or thicket of saplings where they emerged. Most eggs will be laid within this location". It sounds likely to me that they pick other plants if the preferred host isn't around (no problem there, for now).

I plan to release tiny parasitic wasps to protect my apple and pear trees from codling moths so maybe it won't be the end of my apple trees. I guess they could attack any silkworm eggs laid on the apple trees too, but I don't know if their range is far to reach the pest tree (thereby reducing the effect of desired infestation), or if they'd basically just protect the trees where they hatch. Gotta research that.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1815
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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I would look into whether or not Alianthus altissima is on your local list of invasives, and what that means for property owners harbouring it.

In some places, you can be fined if you don't properly contain or take measures to eradicate invasive species, especially ones as prolific as this one.

These have the potential to be really destructive, tearing apart foundations and walls, should they take root there.

Incidentally, I would be really cautious about introducing a non-native with an appetite like the moth you describe. We all know what a lack of natural predators and an abundance of food sources will do.

-CK
 
gardener
Posts: 825
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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That tree is listed as invasive in a lot of areas. In my restoration work I have had to deal with it a few times. A word of warning about cutting it down (assuming your neighbor would want to) - it will respond by sending up a ton of shoots from the stump and from the roots. Some of the "seedlings" you are dealing with might be shoots from the roots - it spreads this way fairly regularly.

I don't think it likes shade though I have seen it grow amongst other trees that are all at a similar height. It can reach a height of 80 feet so it could be difficult to shade out. I doubled checked and it does not like shade according to all the sites I read about it.

I think making a thick hedgerow with some evergreens on that side of your property could contain it since tree of heaven does not like shade. Of course depending on the orientation you could shade your own property.

If you go that route use a mix of tall trees, small trees and shrubs. You could focus on edible plants - standard fruit trees, shade tolerant smaller trees like pawpaws, and shrubs (berries). Include a nice mix of shade tolerant plants. Depending on orientation you might have a sunny side to the hedge for sun living edibles.

Not going to say this will eliminate the issue but it would likely reduce your long-term work and provide you with a lot of great edibles to eat.

Good luck!
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
Posts: 1815
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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As to that, you could try planting something like a cedar hedge, something that carries it's own allelopathic properties.

-CK
 
Zach Simmons
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Thanks for the heavy shade idea. I also read it does poorly in shade. My house faces southwest, and the tree sits slightly southeast of me, so I can't effectively plant anything to shade it on my own property..

I might look into invasive species regulation, but personally don't like the idea of going to the state to flex it's muscles against my neighbor.

I like the idea of planting other allopathic species.  Curious if anyone has any observations on trees that resist it's encroach, or push it out? I'll research this.

I was also thinking I could let my wisteria vine loose on it and maybe that would shade enough to choke it out.. though probably not, and doesn't address the suckered and seedlings. Maybe I'll need to move to mostly understood plantings and add trees to shade my garden so they at least don't take off there.
 
Zach Simmons
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Understory*
 
Susan Pruitt
pollinator
Posts: 231
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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So I looked around my property and made some observations that concur with Daron and Kris,  The area where the most seeds sprout in my yard is in full sun, in a band about 40 feet long and 20 feet wide at one end of my vegetable garden about 30 feet from the offending tree which is in full sun.   Interestingly  there are not very many seedlings on the other half of the garden or the middle of my yard where it is also full sun.   So it seems that the seeds are not being scattered far by the wind?     On the other side of the yard (150 feet away),   is a wooded area with another scraggly alianthus facing south.    This understory tree is maybe half the size of the other.  It hangs over my "mulch yard" and boneyard which is typically shaded and I'm constantly tromping around with piles of compost and thick leaf mulch - therefore significantly fewer sprouts.   So I agree that planting thick shrubs or trees and keeping fresh thick mulch over the area would be the simplest solution.

Alianthus is on North Carolina's invasive list.   But there's little likelihood that some low class landlords are going to spend a couple grand cutting down such a massive tree and my impression is that DOE enforcement is generally focused on public and commercial properties.

The trees are loaded with seeds right now and I just don't recall seeing the little seed pods on the ground in prior years, so I'm going to continue observing and see if I come up with some preventive measures in addition to just cutting the branches that hang over my yard (perfectly legal and they're in basically neglected corners of neighbors I don't know or care to - that's what the fence is for :)
 
gardener
Posts: 1756
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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Wisteria is a nitrogen fixer.  I doubt it would do anything to choke out an already full grown tree.  I would worry about it fertilizing the tree instead.  I may just be underestimating the wisteria, though.  I've been watching the wisteria I helped a neighbor cut to the ground this spring.  It's already getting close to becoming a hazard at the end of her driveway, again.
 
Posts: 98
Location: belgium
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For Mother Nature's sake, talk to your neighbors. Avoid action with witch you can not foresee its outcome when dealing with your neighbors.
What does the law says? Cant you prune the tree on your ground? Dialogue is better than dispute
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
Posts: 1815
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Alianthus altissima has no good use, is invasive, destructive, allelopathic to anything you actually want to grow, and it smells like semen.

By all means, talk to the neighbour. But eradicate that pest.

-CK
 
dirk maes
Posts: 98
Location: belgium
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Chestnuts also have a semen smell when in flower. But i like the fruits anyway
 
pollinator
Posts: 140
Location: istanbul - turkey
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I gave up fighting with this one. It might be the wisest decision I have made so far :) It grows from seeds (wind-borne and huge seed stock), suckers, roots. It is almost impossible to eradicate this one. Once it realizes it is trouble, just suckers suckers everywhere. You have to kill it sneakily. Do not cut it down (I had my share), make hack marks to weaken it. This one is not permaculture but very useful, please watch this one before cutting that one down youtube: Invasive Species: Tree of Heaven It really loves disturbed soils and very drought tolerant.
The only permaculture solution I came up with this one is to use it as a mulch resource. You know the problems are solutions thing. I cut down a big one, resulted in numerous suckers. We also have many popping up all around the garden so fighting against was a lost cause. For the last couple of years I cut small trees at knee high when it is dormant, let them grow for a year and the next year I cut those branches at waist high. Next year back to knee high. They turned into a constant supply of mulch material (or chop and drop). I let branches dry out, not intentionally though. Pruning happens in January- February and I usually run short in mulch material in June- July. I don't give them a chance to flower, I cut off their flowers. It is easier when they are at your height. I didn't have any problems with its allopathic properties, but I should say I didn't get to use it in my vegetable beds. It is also great for chop and drop.
Edited to add: Smells like semen? We cal it fart-tree here in Turkey. Cuz it smells like, you know, fart :p
Video embedded:
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
Posts: 1815
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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My previous experiences with it suggest that mulching with it kills whatever I mulch.

If it was as useful as chestnut, producing a tasty nut crop and superior quality lumber, I wouldn't mind the smell. But it's a pretty useless tree. I can think of many things that I would replace it with.

As to killing them, this is one of those situations where I would try a bunch of different approaches.

If I was dealing with one large one and a bunch of its babies, I would chop them all down and lay tarps, landscape cloth, EPDM, whatever was at hand, but preferably something impermeable to water, black, and capable of blocking out the light.

Then I would make sure the transitional pioneers that I put in place thereafter have sufficiently different pH requirements, and maybe an allelopathy of their own, either a conifer guild, or perhaps oaks, but something with a symbiotic relationship with at least one mushroom species of culinary significance, like Chanterelles (different ones like both pine and oak).

I would also look to plants that form effective root barriers for the perimeter of the kill zone, and I would start the allelopathic guild along the perimeter while the light and moisture barrier was still down.

I definitely think that this is a class of invasive that requires a strategic, persistent, methodical approach, but it's well worth doing.

Alianthus altissima, an overblown misnomer if ever I heard one, is a blight on the land, and eradicating it is a gift to future generations.

-CK

EDIT: I wonder, if all the trees were chopped down, say at knee height, and the resultant wood were chipped and dropped evenly over the area, such that they formed their own light barrier to the soil, would that eventually inhibit growth? I mean, other methods of control would need to be used at the same time, making sure shoots weren't making it out from under the mulch and pulling or chopping those that poke up through the chips, but wouldn't that eventually starve the organism? If you keep letting it try to leaf out, only to chop off the new growth, it's expending its reserves, and it doesn't get to use it's leaves to make more.

This approach would have the benefit of chopping down the trees, removing the seed vector of spread, and reducing the tree waste to a form that not only enables it to be disposed of safely and cheaply on-site, but also contributes to the organism's demise.
 
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