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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - October 23, 2007

From: San Marcos, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Destroying seeds of Chinaberry tree
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a "chinaberry" tree in my yard, and while I understand that it is an invasive plant to Texas, I was hoping to save the large mature tree. As an effort to be more responsible I have been collecting any seeds the plant bears, but now I am left wondering what is the general method for destroying seeds of an invasive species? I obviously don't want to throw the seeds in the trash, nor do I wish to use horrible herbicides or chemicals.

ANSWER:

You are to be congratulated for recognizing the invasive nature of the Melia azedarach, (Chinaberry), and we also understand your reluctance to destroy a mature tree. Your concern about the seeds is valid, but you should also realize that most plants put out an enormous number of seeds because so few of them will actually be viable and manage to land in a hospitable spot, survive predators and get the necessary sun, water and temperatures. Still, it's a consideration, and your management of clearing the area of seeds is a step in the right direction. Of course, the birds love the seeds and are going to spread them far and wide before you can get to them. If you are concerned about disposing still-viable seeds, how about putting them in a black garbage bag, and leaving it out in the sun. Even if the air is cold, the heat is going to build up in that bag and cooked seeds are not viable. After a few weeks, or months, whenever you get tired of the bag being there, dispose of it as you would any other trash.
 

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