Growing Trees in Pots: Tips for Miniature Trees

Growing Trees in Pots: Tips for Miniature Trees

Pining For Home: Removing Invasive Athel Pines From Your Land

by Julius Manninen

Invasive plant species can wreak havoc on Australia's unique and delicate native ecosystem, causing untold damage and destruction for landowners. One of the most damaging and dangerous of these unwanted invaders is a plain and rather unassuming tree known as the athel pine. This expansive evergreen tree was once widely grown by farmers and ranchers for use as shades trees and windbreaks, but it proves to be such a pest that it is now listed on the Australian government's list of Weeds Of National Significance -- needless to say, any athel pines you find on your land should be removed as soon as possible.

Why is it so important to remove athel pines?

Athel pines have a number of distinctive properties that can make them thoroughly undesirable additions to your landscape:

  • Fast growth: The athel pine is not a pine at all and grows far more quickly than true pines. As tall trees with expansive branch systems, even a small stand of athel pines can quickly grow to obstruct pathways and cast unwanted shade. 
  • Suckering: While athel pines can reproduce conventionally by seeding, new trees can also sprout from the root systems of older, living trees. These new trees are genetically identical to the parent tree, and often remain connected to the same root system -- as such, dense thickets of trees can develop quickly, blocking access to paths and waterways and crowding out native vegetation.
  • Adaptability: Athel pines are able to grow in a wide range of habitats and soil types and are quite at home in poor, dry soils -- very few areas are safe from athel pine infestation. To compensate for poor soil quality, the trees are able to absorb water from the ground remarkably quickly using their aggressive root systems, which can quickly lead to groundwater depletion and soil erosion.
  • Soil salinity: As a further adaptation to poor soils and low water levels, athel pines are capable of extracting the salt from brackish groundwater before it is used. This salt is excreted through glands on the leaves, often leaving a visible crust on foliage. This salt then falls to pollute the soil, significantly raising soil salinity and killing any and all plants without high salt tolerances. High soil salinity is particularly damaging to many commercial crops, and the difficulty of flushing unwanted salt from soil can mean diminished harvests for many years. 

So how do I get rid of athel pines?

Athel pines can be hardy and tenacious trees, but they are not invulnerable, and a number of control methods can effectively rid your land of these unpleasant trees:

  • Uprooting: If you're lucky enough to catch athel pines while they are still young and relatively small, they can be be manually uprooted and destroyed. However, you should make sure to remove as much of the tree's root structure as possible, as even small fragments of root left behind can sucker to form new trees. Recheck the ground periodically after uprooting to catch and remove seedlings.
  • Mechanical control: Larger trees will need to be tackled with more robust mechanical methods, especially when they grow in thickets, and you will almost certainly need to call in professional tree removal services to achieve good results. Chain pulling and excavating with backhoes are both viable options, but be careful not to destroy any remaining native wildlife in the area. You should also arrange for proper disposal of large amounts of tree matter, as athel pine wood has a high ash content and does not burn well.
  • Herbicides: Chemical herbicides are useful for individual trees located in awkward positions, or close to other wildlife that may be affected by herbicide use. A number of herbicides suitable for use on athel pines are available (check with tree removal services and herbicide suppliers to find the best one for your needs). One advantage of the athel pine is that it does not need to be felled to effectively administer herbicides, as cutting regular notches in the bark and applying herbicide directly to the exposed sapwood can be just as effective.

For more information, contact a tree removal company in your area.


About Me

Growing Trees in Pots: Tips for Miniature Trees

Welcome to my blog. My name is Emilie. When I turned thirty, I received the most thoughtful gift from my mum: a tropical tree in a pot. I loved it. I would have never imagined buying something like that, but it lit up my home, and it produced yummy fruit. After having such a positive experience with a potted tree, I decided to invest in a few more. Through the years, I have learned how to take care of potted trees, how to plant them outside and how to ensure they are getting the light they need inside. If you want to buy a tree in a pot or if you already have one, explore these posts. They will guide you toward great tree care.