Cheryl McCormick, University of Florida, Bugwood.org
Cheryl McCormick, University of Florida, Bugwood.org
Cheryl McCormick, University of Florida, Bugwood.org
Cheryl McCormick, University of Florida, Bugwood.org
Cheryl McCormick, University of Florida, Bugwood.org

Invasive Watch: Chinese Tallowtree

Sept. 5, 2023
Wet, dry, sun or shade — this hardy tree spreads its roots nearly anywhere, crowding out many native species. Using selective herbicide applications as part of an IVM strategy can improve results achieved through mechanical control methods.

Why Is Chinese Tallowtree a Problem?

Chinese tallowtree can invade nearly any habitat — from the dry utility rights-of-way in the southwestern United States to the marshy ground in the Southeast. Wet, dry, sun, shade — this hardy tree spreads its roots nearly anywhere, crowding out many native species. 

Its resistance to multiple pests and ability to lay dormant in soil for up to five years gives the Chinese tallowtree another leg up when invading ecosystems. Some trees can produce up to 100,000 seeds and can sprout from the roots, especially when the original stem is cut or top-killed.

What Does Chinese Tallowtree Look Like?

Chinese tallowtree can either be single or multitrunked with wrinkly bark that’s light to dark gray in color. Its oval canopy spreads wide from the trunk and branches, with leaves that are waxy and diamond-shaped with smooth margins. 

The tree’s numerous flowers are white to greenish-yellow and have no petals. They grow on spikes at the end of single branches after leaves have emerged in spring. Fruits are three-lobed capsules that turn from green to brownish black. When the fruits mature, the outer part falls away to reveal three round white seeds, which superficially resemble popcorn.

How to Manage Chinese Tallowtree Effectively

Controlling Chinese tallowtree can be tricky because the tree not only reproduces via seeds but also can grow back from a cut stump or roots left in the ground. Using selective herbicide applications as part of an IVM strategy can improve results achieved through mechanical control methods.

  • High-volume foliar application 
    • Use Garlon® 4 Ultra herbicide from Corteva Agriscience at a rate of 2 to 6 quarts per 100 gallons of spray mixture. Apply the mixture sufficiently to all leaves, stems and root collars at a volume of 100 to 400 gallons of total spray per acre, depending on the size and density of trees on your treatment site. 
  • Low-volume foliar application
    • Mix up to 5% v/v of Garlon 4 Ultra herbicide in water and apply 10 to 100 gallons of finished spray. Use a sufficient spray volume to ensure uniform coverage on targeted trees, ensuring all areas, including foliage, stems and root collars, are sprayed. For optimum results, add a surfactant to the spray mixture. Tank-mixing up to 9 quarts of Garlon 4 Ultra herbicide with labeled rates of Tordon® 22K herbicide in 10 to 100 gallons of finished spray can broaden the spectrum of control. Always check product labels to confirm state registrations. 
  •  Chemical side trimming
    • Chemical side trim applications are an option to control the portions of Chinese tallowtree that pose a threat to overhead powerlines. Direct a spray solution of 2.85 ounces of TerraVue® herbicide per acre to cover only the portions of the trees you wish to control.
  •  Dormant-season treatments
    • This treatment method is best suited for sites with dense, small-diameter brush. If woody plants and vines have stems that are larger than 2 inches in diameter, they may not be controlled and resprouting may occur. By mixing 4 to 8 quarts of Garlon 4 Ultra with 2 to 3 gallons of crop oil concentrate and adding water to make 100 gallons of total spray solution, dormant-stem treatments can be used as a chemical side trim treatment for controlling lateral branches of larger trees that encroach onto utility rights-of-way. 

Find more best practices for controlling incompatible vegetation throughout utility rights-of-way and adjacent land at Utility.VegetationMgmt.com.

™ ® Trademarks of Corteva Agriscience and its affiliated companies. Tordon® 22K is a Restricted Use Pesticide. Under normal field conditions, TerraVue® is nonvolatile. TerraVue has no grazing or haying restrictions for any class of livestock, including lactating dairy cows, horses (including lactating mares) and meat animals prior to slaughter. Label precautions apply to forage treated with TerraVue and to manure and urine from animals that have consumed treated forage. TerraVue is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Consult the label for full details. State restrictions on the sale and use of Garlon® 4 Ultra apply. Consult the label before purchase or use for full details. Always read and follow label directions. © 2023 Corteva.

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