Of course, this is a controversial subject. But who gets to decide? The hackberry trees that are planted indescriminately through my neighborhood are mostly here because of the birds. While they are brittle trees and break easily in high winds...they live forever and make wonderful shade. The Dallas Arboretum has many and they are trimmed responsibly and make beautiful trees.
For 41 years we had fruitless mulberry (3) that shaded almost our entire lot. They get a really bad rap. But. They grow fast giving shade to a new home quickly. We never had any complaint. Last fall had them taken out as they were beginning to die off on the ends of the branches. We miss them terribly. They most definitely contibuted to a lower energy bill.
We also have a wisteria that we have given support so it grows over our deck.
Takes very little to keep it contained where we want it. Grows fast, has fantastic blooms and aroma in the spring. Would be devastated if it were to die.
BTW, all three of the above require nothing...no fertilizer, no water...just leave them alone and they will reward you for years.
Thank you for a great article.
Also have several native Red Oaks. Now talk about messy...
'Trash tree' is probably a term we should do away with. I agree that if you love your 'trash tree' be bold about it!
One of my neighbors and I do not get along at all. He was yelling at me one day about my Sycamore tree. He said that I obviously wasn't from around here because if I was, I'd know that it's a trash tree (I've only lived here for 30 years.) My Sycamore is one of my favorites with its white trunk, beautiful peeling bark and huge leaves. Some of the big trunks of the older ones that I've seen are like works of art. My neighbor hates the leaves that fall in his yard and worries about the power lines. The utitliy company did butcher my tree in a way that was completely unnecessary but met their 8' standards. The branches of the sycamore were growing vertically and not horizontally and were therefore not a threat to the lines, but apparently, we must adhere to ridiculous rules.
Your article said it well, one man's trash is another's treasure. Also, condemning a tree could have deleterious effects on the wildlife that depends on that tree. I'm thinking of the Hackberry mentioned above and the Hackberry Emperor butterfly. My crazy neighbor also complains to another neighbor about her Mulberry, but I love to watch the Cedar Waxwings descend on it. I don't think convenience is an excuse for getting rid of a tree.
Clearly, I have issues with the whole concept of trash trees. I appreciate your thoughtful look at the subject.
Because of "fond memories" at my grandmother's home, we planted sycamore along the street when we first moved here in 1967. They were beautiful and I really loved them. Tornado of 1994 took out every single one. The others mentioned above were damaged but recovered quickly.
The value of every tree depends on the point of view of the gardener, it is true that "trash tree" is not the best phrase but it is common name for a whole bunch of trees - that differs from coast to coast and in all parts of the world.
I was thinking about the part in the article that we love trash trees because they remind us of our childhood, and I thought that since most of my childhood was spent in Canada, I didn't have any trees from my childhood. I thought again of the reasons why I like the Sycamore and realized that I love it for the same reasons that I loved the Birch trees when I was kid! We used to peel off the bark and use it to make treasure maps and write other secret things. I'd forgotten all about that until now. Thanks for giving me back a memory.
I'll bet you knew you were going to get love letters and hate mail with this one--LOL. There was a Mimosa tree in the yard of the cottage on our property when we bought it. The hummingbirds and butterflies flocked to it in unbelievable numbers. It provided welcome shade from the setting sun. It was also infested with the biggest and scariest hornets I've ever seen. This past spring we had it taken down because of its dangerous lean over the roof. I miss it and I'll bet the hummingbirds and butterflies do too. I don't like to think about the hornets.
And of course what's a weed tree in one place is more acceptable in another. We have a mimosa tree. It came with the house. Although a lot of seedlings come up in the yard, I have not seen them being invasive in the wild here - probably because the seeds are not spread by birds or wind and most places in the wild are too dry. The big-time weed tree around here is the Mexican fan palm - but who could imagine L.A. without them?
The apartment building I used to live in in Sylmar CA had several mimosa trees and several ginko biloba trees -- planted in 1973 when apartment buildings still had grounds around them -- not just tiny strips of concrete sidewalk. These trees were huge, 35-35 feet tall, trunks 2 feet in diameter. I lived there from 1998 until 2004. Not once did I ever see a stray seedling come up from one of these trees.
There are mimosa trees here in the woods, if you look. But you do have to look as they only comprise 1% or less of the tree population. Hardly my idea of invasive and taking over the landscape. Personally, I think a lot of times mimosa trees get a bad rap because when they bloom they are so visible. Other than the stray wild dogwood, oftentimes in the spring they are the only blooming tree. I rarely see a seedling from them in my yard.
Now, the tree I would nominate as a nuisance is the sweetgum. Tons of them in the wood behind us, and I probably pull up more than 200 seedlings every year.
As for non-native plants "crowding" out native plants -- at some point in the far past, these "native" plants were non-native. To me, this is evolution in the plant kingdom. It's been going on for thousands of years. It will continue with or without our help.
As I thought again about the trees in my yard...my neighbor has several mature pecan trees...guess what I pull from my flower beds year round...pecan seedlings. Drives me crazy. Do you know anyone that would consider a pecan tree a trash tree? Didn't think so.
Funny with the Mexican fan plam and the mimosa. People paid $250-300 for a fan plam here and mimosa aren't worth buying. You can find a seedling most anywhere and they grow like like crazy. Someone told me Pampas Grass was very invasive in Cal, which it's used here all over the place and is not invasive at all. In fact I really don't see how it can be invasive, just never have seen a rooted seed. No runners it does get pretty big but you can burn it to the ground every other year.
I seldom comment on articles (actually on anything anymore unless I'm talking to a specific friend or long term customer) but I feel the need to about yours. I don't grow mimosa's because I simply don't have the room, but I'm with you on the memories they produce. I use to spend every summer with my grandparents in Groves Texas (in between Beaumont and Port Arthur) when I was a kid. My dad was a colonal in the air force and I grew up in Montana and Colorado but was born near Groves. Some of the fondest memories I have in my life are me and my bazillion cousins climbing mimosa trees---definitely one of the easiest trees for a really small kid to climb (and I was usually one of the youngest and smallest (still am)--can you imagine a 4 year old trying to climb a limbed up oak?). The confidence they gave me in front of those older kids has probably lasted my entire life and is probably why I'm not scared of much to this day--lol
Trash they may be but they are priceless to me. I used to specifically seek them out when my kid was young (at the public swimming pools, etc) just so she could have the opportunity to successfully "scale" a seemingly huge tree (to a 4 yr old--they are humongous).
Thanks for this article--I shall have to email it to her in college. Funny, I never remember hornets and wasps being on them.
Pampas grass is not invasive in So. CA. I grew up there, never once saw pampas grass that wasn't deliberately planted. I'm not an ornamental grass person, but I've always liked pampas grass. It's so regal looking.
I, too, have never seen hornets and wasps in mimosa trees. Now, if I could just figure out how to get them out of my attic . . .
We have wild morning glories here. I've seen several kinds and colors. I've read that they are invasive -- people swearing at them all the time -- they do come back every year in the same place, but don't appear to spread. Now, the morning glories that I have all over the yard, trying to take over everything, are the next generation from the "packaged" morning glories that I planted last year. Go figure!
I have a mature mimosa on property. It looks great and its habits are irrelevant since it sits in the rear of 3 1/2 acres.
In fact, I'm so pleased with it that I would like to acquire the albizia "summer chocolate". The problem is that the price is so high it's unrealistic. So if anyone has seeds to share please let me know.
One mans junk is another mans treasure.
I have 4 mimosas on the back of my property. I found them last fall and cut them down to the ground. Then this spring, I realized the little buggers were growing back. Not having the time to get back there and hack them down again, they've since grown just as big as they were this time last year.
These were not planted by me, they were 'volunteers'...We've had this property for over 5 years and last year was the first time they cropped up.
At this point, I figure they can stay. Once they grow a bit more, they'll sheild that last corner of our property from our neighbors view. Will I let them take over? No. The four that are there I'll allow, but their 'children' won't be welcome. :o)
I don't know if mimosa are so invasive in cooler climates. Around where I am they send of seedlings like there is no tomorrow. If the tree is in a controllable area then it's fine. Like out in the middle of a yard that gets mowed around etc.
It looks like what you call Mimosa are what we call Silk Trees here - and they don't seem to have any issue other than maybe being old fashioned.
I have never seen any seedlings from my old & much loved backyard tree but the Elderberry out front -
now that is classed as a noxious weed.
Cheers - Dalfyre
ChCh, New Zealand
Pampas grass is invasive in places along the California coast. You see it some in Malibu (not intentionally planted) along some steep hillsides, but I think it's more of a problem in central CA. I'd say that fountain grass was more invasive around here, but it seems to stay in disturbed places, like along roads. I don't see it out in natural areas.
A promient horticulturist is now calling Vitex invasive now when very recently the same person was aggressively promoting this tree/bush/shrub.
I have a dozen vitex planted and love them, but knew early on it can't be killed and have just lately given up trimming out shoots as it's impossible to keep up. At least with several trees and/or when they get too tall.