Australian Pine

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

Get ready everyone, we are now being called a hate group, LOL. I ran across this site by accident.

Lutz, FL(Zone 9b)

Proving once again that you can find anything on the internet...sigh. You know, last week on the local NBC station they were doing their consumer advocate report about this very thing. There's a lady in Pinellas County who has a neighbor with these huge Australian pines. Well, during the last hurricane season the lady's patio and pool area were heavily damaged. She has the insurance money, but hasn't rebuilt because she's afraid the trees will come crashing down during the next hurricane. Her neighbor is selling the house so it's in a bit of limbo. An arborist came out and said two of the trees were unhealthy and should be removed, but it would cost approx $10,000! So this poor lady has to live under the threat of these things coming down on her house. I couldn't believe how tall they were! I'd be so scared if that was my property. I felt so helpless that there was nothing I could do. I wish Oprah would give me some of the money she passes out to her audience. I'd be in the next county taking all those trees out and turning them into mulch! In the meantime, I've joined my local invasive species task force as a volunteer. I'll have to tell them we're all a bunch of hatemongerers. And isn't it funny how environmentalists are usually accused of being tree-huggers?

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

I have a very good friend of mine who I often have heated debates with. One day I was out in my woods with my chainsaw cutting down tallow trees. The trees were beautiful with their bright red fall color and I must have already cut down over ten of them. My friend came running up to me and asked "what in the world are you doing", I was sort of tired so I responded with "I'm getting rid of these %$&!ed popcorn trees". He then asked me why I hated trees so much.
It is really hard for some people to understand how such destruction is beneficial in the long run. Some people have the "live for today" attitude. If it is not negatively impacting them today, then they don't worry about it.

I have to give the man credit who created the website in an attempt to save something he loves, he was fair in that he posted this reply-

Hi Ken,

I've checked out your web page and I have a few comments. I'll state up front, not in the interest of being contentious but rather full disclosure, that I'm very glad the Australian Pines are being removed.

They are tough trees, tough enough to handle salt spray, immersion of their roots in brackish or salt water, and tough enough to grow on open sand and other soils poor in available nutrients. Because they are not indigenous to this part of the world, the suite of insects, fungi, and other organisms that would typically attack a tree at various stages in its life cycle are not found here.

This lack of "predators" (a horticultural advantage for the use of exotics in general) combined with extraordinary toughness thus gives the tree a great advantage over not most but nearly all of the native plants found in an area. The trees form tight stands along the shore, or in the Everglades, because they can. The diverse shore community typically found here cannot grow where one species is so dominant.

The trees have no analogue in the native shoreline community. In dominating the sunlight, in producing a thick carpet of litter, by laying out large, long-stretching woody roots, by throwing up a tall, wide windblock, they are not like native shore plants in habit or in scale. If they were similar to Sea Grape, say, native plants may be able to exist alongside them to some degree. This would not make them "better" overall, because they still have the advantages stated in the above paragraph. For example, the native Beachberry (Scaevola plumieri), is endangered in large part because its closely similar relative, the exotic Beach Napuka (Scaevola sericea), is widely used in shore and inland landscaping and is successfully out competing the native on every front.

In fact, some of the very worst invasive exotic plants, ones that may never be removed from native landscapes, have close relatives or ecological analogies in native plants. The Shoebutton Ardisia (Ardisia elliptica) is a relative of the native Marlberry (Ardisia escallonioides), and the Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla) is a hemiepiphyte similar to the native Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea). Unfortunately, organisms that limit native species here are not typically successful when attacking a relative that comes from a different part of the world, tropical Asia or Australia in the examples above.

The trees may be allelopathic, that is, chemicals in their fallen "needles" or released by the roots may inhibit the growth of other plants. This is not specific to Australian Pines, it is found in many groups of plants, but it is not typical of plants found in shore communities, where growing conditions are difficult and salt/wind/soil tolerances segregate plant species more than intense competition.

A powerful exotic species dramatically decreases the diversity of a habitat. This is as true of the exotic Nile Perch in Lake Victoria, which has caused the extinction of scores of species of cichlid fish, as it is with Australian Pines in south Florida. The community that forms after the introduction does not collapse into death but is less rich in species, less rich in types of species, simpler in food web structure, and less able to adapt to the myriad conditions that occur continuously.

During large storms the sand beneath the shallow mat of roots formed by Australian Pines is washed out, the tall trees topple and form an immense woody jumble that does not resemble a native shore. Native shorelines survive hurricanes surprisingly well. If they are damaged the newly opened area is colonized in a clear set of successional stages composed of plants already present in various parts of the surrounding area.

The impacts on other types of organisms can be severe. Sea turtles nest with great difficulty on Australian Pine-laden beaches. Roots and toppled trees present barriers not encountered along most of a native shore.

A walk along the trails of Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca, or John D. MacArthur State Park will show what a native south Florida shore community can be. It is unique in North America. The forest is rich and diverse. The trees provides shade and shelter, food for migrating birds. Many native wild flowers bloom year-round in the sunny areas. The community is healthy, vigorous, supports many different kinds of life, and recovers from hurricanes well. And it stays in place -- it does not start invading canal banks, lake shores, or the Everglades.

In southeast Florida the federal, state and local parks are the sole locations along the congested shoreline that have a chance of resembling the shoreline that covered the area less than eighty years ago. Given how much we have taken away, why insist that this tiny percentage of shoreline be otherwise?

Doug S. (Pompano Beach, FL)

The creator of the website is very passionate or he wouldn't have written this-
The other viewpoint was the exotic pest plant control "hate groups" that were out to "kill" all the Australian pines they could get their hands on. One such page stated proudly how they had cut down over 1200 Australian pines.

It's so hard for us humans to part with something we love but at least the man shared the viewpoint of one who opposed him.

Say mellielong,
In the meantime, I've joined my local invasive species task force as a volunteer.
Welcome to my world. I've long said that even as little as one morning or one afternoon a month can make an incredible difference. You will learn more than you ever imagined under a land steward or heritage/wildlife biologist.

And escambiaguy, who would have "thunk" just 50 years ago that today's gardeners would have had chainsaws and in many cases bulldozers, hydro saws, and blow torches as tools? It was unheard of. But back then exotic invasive species were unheard of too for all practical purposes.

Atmore, AL(Zone 8b)

I do agree that the reply was excellent, but what is disturbing is that it didn't change his mind any.

Equil, I don't think I could survive without my chainsaw. Sadly, a lot of the privet that is here was introduced by my great grandmother because she liked it. She didn't know any better back in those days. She did pick some winners too though, the camellias she planted are still right where she put them 40 years ago.

I couldn't survive without my chainsaw either. It was the best Mother's Day present I ever received.

We can't change their minds.

Could our minds have been changed just 20 years ago when we wanted to plant that ever so enticing Butterfly Bush? Or how about those beloved Burning Bushes that were just gaining in popularity back then? Is there anything anyone could have said that would have stopped us from flanking our front doorway with Burning Bushes?

Please escambiaguy, think back for a moment to a time when you (or your parents) planted what ever you wanted, when ever you wanted, and at whom ever's expense. We didn't know back then what we know now and exactly how many gardeners out there truly get the opportunity to physically walk through a natural area where their irresponsible plant choices have come to rest. People don't see the fox or the coyote or the neighbor's stray cat running through their exotic ornamental grasses picking up seed on their coats and transferring it to other areas where it will germinate and grow strong to set seed itself. People don't see the birds migrating through eating berries and seeds and pooping them out miles away in hospitable natural areas where those seeds will also germinate and grow strong to set seed itself. Seeing is believing and many people have never been afforded the luxury of seeing for themselves exactly what's going on in natural areas.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Oh Dear!
In NJ where my MIL lives they have declaired the trees some sort of historical treasure, never mind tripping over the roots and cracks in the sidewalks breaking humanlimbs. Gee ya think they could plant some new trees if they cut some down, fix the sidewalks and get over it? Noooo! The trees have to be dangerous or diseased for someone to have a right to cut one down in their own yard, and then the cost is exorbitant. Who makes this stuff up anyway?

I have a lot of respect for someone who knows how to weild a chainsaw, Escam:o))


Lutz, FL(Zone 9b)

Chainsaws are nice, but there was something very fulfilling about chopping down a Brazilian Pepper tree by myself. Ok, it was small, and Dad pulled the stump out using his Ford F-150...but still! I'm getting into this phase lately where I like doing stuff the old-fashioned way. Line drying my clothes, composting, chopping things...I guess Al Gore scared me into lowering my carbon emissions. I'm even carrying water from my rain barrel to all the flower beds! What's really getting my goat lately is all the golden shower trees in bloom around here. It's the one time I can easily identify them and I see just how many of those things there are. One thing I noticed when I was researching native plants is that there seems to be a native cousin for lots of exotic species. The USF botanical gardens had native plant day last Saturday. There was a vendor explaining why he decided to go all native. I heard him talking about how he ripped out all his Mexican petunias and was showing a lady the native petunia (ruellia carolina...something, I'm not good with latin). I just couldn't help but wonder why local nurseries and those big corporate places wouldn't want to sell something that is just as pretty and won't hurt the environment.

In good news, my Home Depot was selling Tampa Vervain again (it's an endangered species!). I missed out last year, but scored some from the native plant society folks last month. Well, at the HD, they were sold out but I saw some in a cart marked "returns". I promptly put them in my cart. They're soooo pretty and I'm using them out by the street so everyone can see them (I take care of our cul-de-sac's entrance). I'm doing a whole native plant display on the corner since: 1) it's a good idea, 2) there is no shade on the one side and it would have to be native to withstand the scorching Florida sun and 3) I like to conserve water. One of the neighbors even stopped and handed me $25 for all the work I do! I'm so proud of myself - using native plants, my rain barrel, and I've switched to eucalyptus mulch to save native trees! My Dad gave me permission to take over part of the side yard where the grass won't grow. It's very shady and the soil keeps getting washed away. I'm already picking out some native trees and shrubs to put in (Parsley Hawthorn is topping my list right now). So much land, so little time...

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Millie~ I just ordered some erosion mix for farmers you might be interrested in. (It grows in shade too). I could send you some and try it out in a small area first. It's only about 5.50 a pound of seed. With more weight there are significant discounts.
The hard work it is sure to pay off in time,


Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

I just couldn't help but wonder why local nurseries and those big corporate places wouldn't want to sell something that is just as pretty and won't hurt the environment.
... because too many of us are still buying whatever they stock.

Way to go, mellielong! Your enthusiasm plus your practical application in a very visible space hopefully will be contagious, and more people will look for natives.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

My sister is so lucky. She bought a house without any trees at all. Any suggestions I can pass on to her would be good coming from you guys. It's such an important decision, planting the right trees initially. I hate to cut one down, when it was an uneducated choice of tree on someones part. I don't want to hear the words, "why didn't you tell me?", when I have people to ask now as well.

Here it is a lot like Austrailia in some region, maybe a little more monsantoized :o(, though just as arid. What trees would you folks plant on 1 acre of fairly flat Northeastern Texas soil?

To all up this thread..


Here's one of my fav trees at some house about 2 miles of mine. I don't have one because this property already had more than enough trees, and all the wrong kind. (chop chop). We want to attempt avoiding the 'oops!', here because it is her last home to buy and live in. Qhote her , "my dream home".:o)

Thumbnail by debnes_dfw_tx
Southern, NJ(Zone 6b)

debnes, Maybe you can post a thread in "Trees & Shrubs" asking for suggestions for that location and landscape. Many posters there, especially the real regulars, really love, and know, trees and shrubs and always enthusiastically offer their ideas. Not to say you won't get suggestions on this forum, but I like this forum best for finding out what not to plant. Also for referral to sites that identify invasives for your area.

I can tell you two of my favorite trees never to plant - Flowering Mimosa and While Mulberry.

This message was edited Nov 7, 2006 11:45 PM

What city or county does your sister live in please?

Kirkland, WA(Zone 7b)

Very interesting - some folks just can't imagine that something they have ascribed value to might actually do harm to others. This "invasives" debate needs to be examined from many angles - most things that we do/say will have an impact on others to some degree. Why people don't think beyond themselves remains a curiosity to me.
I was a bit surprised to see the response from "Doug", thought it to be a well-reasoned viewpoint, and was happy that it was posted. Emotion should not rule the day on this subject - we need to use the knowledge that has been acquired wisely. I am located in the Pacific Northwest, and can certainly appreciate many of the points brought up - it's made for some great reading & discussion.
Now for my burning question: How did this individual decide that the squirrel in the photo was enjoying him/herself in the pine needle debris?
Inquiring minds need to know...

How did this individual decide that the squirrel in the photo was enjoying him/herself in the pine needle debris?
Inquiring minds need to know...
Because he was anthropomorphizing ;)

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks Jean,
Your right I should post in Trees & Shrubs, but if any of you have any thoughts on, what to, or not to plant please dmail me. (as long as I brought it up). Thx!
Equil~ Her new home is in Justin Texas, about 30 mi. Nortwest of Fort Worth.
Sorry, I wouldn't want to go WAYYYY off topic, what came over me anyway?
There is one tree I wish they would eliminate/ban altogether, and I have to cut at least 2 down in my back yarden. The dreded Bradford Pear. Some grow alright, maybe, but per chance you get one that doesn't , well...chop chop! It really bugs me that they would think of genetically altering a perfectly good fruit tree to make it fruitless too. Useless! This one that blocks sun on the west side of my Butterfly host/nectar garden has to go!

It grows little trunks all around the rootline... Not all of them did this, but it isn't worth taking chances. Maybe a lot of natural trees can do this too, I don't know. More than one of them does this, really interfering with the small piece of land I have here. when planting I am always running into their roots. If they get chipped, they shoot up, and most of these little sappies just came up on their own..

Thumbnail by debnes_dfw_tx

Please post a link here when you start a new thread for your sister over in trees. If you want suggestions of only native trees, come right out and ask for that or else you will get a hodge podge of suggestions. There are native plant people in Trees & Shrubs.

Bradford Pear??? No comment.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Thank you very much Equil! I will do that.

(Edited to post link)

This message was edited Nov 8, 2006 11:22 AM

Oh good, you found the Trees and Shrubs Forum. When you get the chance to start the thread, please do let us know over here.

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