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Five Invasive Trees in Central Texas

Invasive trees are those that are not native to Central Texas and can easily take over. Here’s our take on five species that unless maintained with care could be a problem down the road.

As a nursery with native plants, talks around our house lately have included choosing trees and perennials to grow that are not invasive. Still new to the business, I’ve had to do a fair amount of research on trees that we can count on to thrive in our area without completely taking over. I was reminded of the mint we planted at our previous home - after ignoring the seemingly tentative suggestion of a Master Gardener to “be sure to plant it in a pot!”, I put that tiny sprout directly into the garden surrounding a large Crape Myrtle. Only a few weeks later, I regretted that decision, and even years later, no amount of cutting, trimming, pulling up or even poison would get rid of it. Lesson learned.

Mimosa Tree - green leaves with spikey pink flowers

Likewise, trees can be much the same if planting in an area intended for livestock, crops, or in an area surrounding your home or garden. You wouldn’t want to plant one tree and end up with 60 shoots of it a short while later, especially in a space needed for another use. And so…I’ve compiled a short list of invasive tree species that you might want to avoid planting – or at least consider planting with caution. I should note that this doesn't include what we would call "scrub trees" such as Mesquite. More on that at a later point.

Without further ado:

  1. Tree of Heaven – A sizable tree with yellow flowers which grows in a thicket-like manner, creates a hazard to power lines and has extensive root systems which are known for causing sewer issues.

  2. Chinaberry – Generally free of pests and diseases, displaces natives. Persistent effort is needed to ensure its removal.

  3. Chinese Tallow – Initially used for oil by the soap industry, this tree spreads rapidly.

  4. Chaste (Texas Lilac) – Can grow readily in poor conditions and seeds profusely under the tree’s canopy. To reduce it’s spread and allow for easier cleanup, trim lower branches which encourage it to grow more as a tree than a bush.

  5. Mimosa – Short life span, messy, and prone to diseases. Its continual reproduction makes it known as the tree that keeps on giving.

While all of these trees are beautiful, keep in mind that they will likely require some additional upkeep to prevent them from invading other plants. Trim regularly, plant several feet away from buildings, and pull up / discard seedlings.

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