Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Wednesday Vignette: The root of the problem

While working on a project in the front garden, I found I needed my shovel, which I'd left in the back garden.  On the fly, I decided to take a moment to dig up the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) seedling I'd noticed a few days earlier.  I'd removed a seedling from the same spot just weeks before and, assuming that I simply hadn't gotten the entire root when I pulled it out, I thought all I needed to do was to move the flagstone adjacent to the new seedling to ensure I got the whole thing.  I figured that was a 5-minute task.

The lush green foliage was impressive, especially as it was growing in an extremely dry area where even succulents struggled to survive.  I thought, if I could get enough of the root out intact, I might pot it up and offer it to neighbors in one of my plant giveaways.

I moved the flagstone and started digging only to meet immediate resistance.  Digging along the sides of the plant, I discovered the root of the problem and called in reinforcements to help me get it out.

After removing a second flagstone, this is the root my husband uncovered

I can only hope we got the majority of it.  But, if there was one root this size 8 to 10 feet from the trunk of the dying mimosa tree we'd taken down last October, is it reasonable to believe that there aren't other roots like this?  Is this mimosa tree going to haunt me forever?  According to one source, "Silktree...regenerates by sprouting from roots following top-kill or injury."  Halloween is still more than a month away but that citation sent a chill down my spine.

This gives you a better sense of the root's size

This shows the plant growing straight up from the root itself

It seems that the self-sown seedlings I've previously found are the tip of the iceberg.  Let the reader beware when planting this tree!

Needless to say, I didn't offer the mimosa's offspring to any of my neighbors.  It went into the trash.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

20 comments:

  1. Oh, dear, now that really is scary. Nothing worse than a garden thug!

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    1. Especially one intent on world domination that attacks on multiple fronts!

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  2. paint the cut end of the root with Bonide Stump and vine killer. It's nasty stuff but works.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions. I've been nervous about using stuff like that but I notice that it's described as a selective herbicide. I'll look into the application requirements.

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  3. I was once asked for plant suggestions for a Bed and Breakfast. After looking over the area (sun/shade/soil) I came up with a few plants. The owner immediately asked about a mimosa tree, and knowing what you know, I told her it probably wasn't a good idea. She was adamant that she had to have one. It was her B&B so what could I say? I don't know whether she planted one or not, but at least in Austin, TX (where I used to live) they were called trash trees. (Note: I didn't coin that term.) Yes, I think they're pretty, but where you put yours is where it needed to go.

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    1. I inherited the tree with the garden but I had a love-hate relationship with it from the start. I was mildly saddened when it started to die and we elected to take it down because it occupied a very prominent space in our back garden. I wish the tree service had told me that the roots might sprout new trees! It would've been easier to deal with before we started replanting :(

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  4. I still have Liquidambar shoots poping up all over my garden 2 years after having the tree cut down. I'd have to dig up a large swath of my back garden to get all the roots out, so for the most part I just pull the shoots and saw the roots off if they are in my way.I'm assuming it's permanent .

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    1. Kathy, see Tracy's suggestion above. I may be taking care of the problem on a piecemeal basis as well given that we replanted the area previously occupied by the mimosa.

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  5. I know I shared my worries with you long ago since this tree is extremely invasive in Alabama. They are beguiling and the flowers are pretty cool, but the seed pods alone can give one nightmares. It's time for me to get out in my neighbor's woods again, and my own yard, and start cutting. Looks like I need to use some kind of "killer" on the cut places when I do. So sorry you are experiencing the down side of this intriguing tree.

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    1. I knew I was going to continue to find seedlings for awhile (I pulled 2 more just this morning) but I never imagined that a new tree could sprout from an underground root! ((SIGH))

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  6. Oh my! Another survivor plant!

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    1. I knew is was a rampant self-seeder but I never expected zombie plants growing from underground roots left behind after the tree was removed.

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  7. Oh dear! Suckering from the roots is a pain in the derriere. We have native poplars that are continually suckering into the pathways, garden beds and even through our driveway. The survival instinct is strong. Good luck.

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    1. I've heard of plants coming back from the roots but I'd always assumed that happened immediately in the vicinity of the original plant (tree). Naivete on my part!

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  8. Oh gosh... I've been increasingly pondering getting rid of my chocolate mimosa, I wonder if it will do the same?

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    1. I take it that your tree is planted in the ground, Loree? If it's still small, maybe it could go into a large pot...The chocolate variety may not be as vigorous but my experience, combined with the plant's littering problem, has put me off on the entire genus.

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  9. "I figured that was a 5-minute task."

    Painfully ironic thought, generally, when thinking about something in the garden, At least when I think it, in my garden!

    You did great getting out so much root. Much less to attempt a come back.

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    1. Yeah, it's amazing how often I think I can get something done in a few minutes that ends up taking hours as one thing leads to another...

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  10. Oh my - you certainly got your workout on that day.... yikes! I have a similar issue with a Wisteria that came out years ago. To this day, it is STILL sprouting.

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    1. I'm afraid that there will be many more pop-up mimosa trees in my future too, Anna!

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