If You Have This Common Tree in Your Yard in Indiana, Kill it Immediately
There's an invasive tree commonly found in Indiana that should be killed if you happen to have one in your yard.
As you know, plants are extremely important to the environment. While most of these plants are good, some can cause some problems, and threaten the ecosystem. Sometimes, the name of these plants could even be deceiving. For example, there is a tree that is invasive in North America, known as the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima). While the tree sounds like it is heavenly, it is far from it.
Tree of Heaven Background
The tree of Heaven is an invasive tree native to China. It was introduced in the United States in the late 1700s as a highly valued ornamental shade tree with the ability to grow on a wide range of site conditions, tolerating poor soils and air quality, according to Penn State Extension. By the early 1900s, the tree started to lose its popularity because of its "weedy" nature, roots, and bad smell. Since then, the tree has become widespread throughout the United States, including here in Indiana.
Why is the Tree of Heaven Invasive?
According to Indiana Woodlands:
Tree-of-Heaven is a serious threat to the long-term productivity of forests in the central hardwood region. There are areas in southern Indiana along the Ohio River where Tree-of-Heaven has completely taken over acres and acres of native forest and formed a monoculture of Tree-of-Heaven.
On top of that, it has a very unpleasant smell. Plus another invasive species in Indiana, the spotted lanternfly, favors this tree and is attracted to hang around them.
Health Concerns for Humans
Not only does the Tree of Heaven have a negative impact on the ecosystem, it also can cause harm to humans too. Penn State Extension lists a few ways in which this tree can affect our health:
Tree-of-heaven can affect human health. The tree is a very high pollen producer and a moderate source of allergy in some people. In addition, a few cases of skin irritation or dermatitis have been reported from contact with plant parts (leaves, branches, seeds, and bark) and products. Symptoms often vary and depend on several factors, including the sensitivity of the individual, the extent of contact, and the condition of the plant or plant product. There are rare reports of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) from exposure to sap through broken skin, blisters, or cuts.
How to Kill the Tree of Heaven
The Tree of Heaven is difficult to control, but it can be done. Cutting and mowing these trees don't do the trick because of their sprouts and root suckers. Penn State Extension suggests that you should treat it with a herbicide first, and wait for the tree to begin to deteriorate, which takes around 30 days, then cut it.
You can also hand pull young seedlings when the soil is moist and the whole root system is removed. That way root fragments don't sprout new seedlings. Penn State Extension says:
To control tree-of-heaven , target the roots with systemic herbicides applied in mid- to late summer (July to onset of fall color) when the tree is moving carbohydrates to the roots. Herbicide applications made outside this late growing season window will only injure aboveground growth. Following treatment, repeated site monitoring for signs of regrowth is critical to prevent reinfestation.
You can learn more about controlling the Tree of Heaven in the video below:
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