En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - April 02, 2008

From: Whitney, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Removing a hackberry stump from a non-native fig tree
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a fig tree that is at least 50 years old. A hackberry tree is growing up through the fig. I have cut it back several times (it is probably 3 inches in diameter at ground level), but have been hesitant to put any type of poison for fear of killing the fig. Do you have any suggestions?

ANSWER:

We are assuming that you are dealing with a Ficus caricus (common fig) with a Celtis laevigata (sugarberry), also known as hackberry, growing up through it. The bad news is that the hackberry is a plant native to North America, and therefore is probably better adapted to live here than the fig tree. The common fig is a temperate species from the Middle East and southern Europe. However, we can understand your desire to keep your 50-year-old fig tree. We agree that using poisons on that stump could very easily damage the roots of the fig. As long as you can keep it from leafing out, the hackberry will have to die, because it needs the leaves for manufacturing food for the tree's survival. However, you probably need to do some more damage to the stump now, to keep it from crowding the roots of the fig. Try digging down (gently!) around the roots of the hackberry, trying to identify the hackberry roots as opposed to the fig roots. With a pruning saw, saw off the hackberry roots as far from the stump as you can. Keep working the stump back and forth, trying to find roots that can be cut to free the stump from the ground. If you can get to the point that you can get the stump out of the ground in this manner, you should have disposed of the problem. Keep an eye on it, and if any sprigs come up, yank them out while they're little. In self defense, tree roots will often try to put out sprouts in a last gasp attempt to keep going. The fig has very extensive roots, going in all directions, so it probably has root capacity to spare if you accidentally damage one root, just try to avoid it if you can. Click this link for a page of images of the Ficus caricus. Below are some pictures of various parts of the hackberry, to hopefully help you identify which tree you are dealing with.


Celtis laevigata

Celtis laevigata

Celtis laevigata

Celtis laevigata

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

What causes peach fruit to ooze sap?
July 27, 2009 - I have a peach tree at our new house. The peaches are small and yellow but appeared healthy. Now it looks like they are oozing or weeping sap out of several places on each one. I dont know if its a di...
view the full question and answer

Probably non-native crapemyrtle trees damaged by hurricane
January 15, 2009 - I have 5 crape myrtle trees. I live in Galveston, Tx and when Hurricane Ike came through in September the salt water I think killed them. They have not come back since then and are brown with no leave...
view the full question and answer

Damage to Yucca rostrata from Nottingham, England
February 26, 2014 - Hi, I have a yucca rostrata which has had its head snapped off in high winds (we live in Nottingham, England) we have left the trunk in the ground, will this re grow?? What is the best thing to do wit...
view the full question and answer

Dying branches on non-native buddleias in Horseshoe Bend TX
September 19, 2010 - Our Black Knight buddleias are developing branches that die. The leaves just turn brown and the whole branch dies then another and finally the whole plant dies. Do you know what could be causing this...
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native house plant
October 20, 2007 - I have bought a 7 foot bird of paradise indoor plant, and have a decorative pot to place it into. The plant will remain in its plastic pot, will have a liner inside decorative pot, and decorative moss...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center