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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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Monday - July 21, 2008

From: Spicewood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Transplants
Title: Transplanting non-native invasive chinaberry trees
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I know most folk think Chinaberry trees are only for digging up, but I say that here in the Hill Country during a drought, they are the greenest and purtiest tree around. I have some tall fifteen footers that I'd like to transplant to give some much needed shade. Does anyone have a suggestion.

ANSWER:

We're afraid we agree with others that Chinaberry trees are good things not to have, but you're entitled to grow what you please on your own property. Unfortunately, it is an invasive tree that can easily move from your property to other places, where it may not be as welcome. Melia azedarach is a deciduous tree in the mahogany family native to India, southern China and Australia. The fruits are poisonous to humans, although some birds are able to eat the fruit and spread the seeds in their droppings. See this Plant Conservation Alliance website Least Wanted - Chinaberry.

Now, as to your question on transplanting the trees, if you really want to do that. This article from About.com on How to Transplant pretty well covers all the bases. In particular, you need to know that now is NOT the right time to transplant, need for shade or not. Transplanting a tree is a great enough shock as it is, without subjecting it also to being moved during a very hot drouth. If you are planning to transplant in the late Winter, probably the best time in West Texas, note the instructions in the referenced article on root pruning to prepare the tree for being moved. Most recommendations we've seen for root pruning say to do it after the leaves drop in the Fall.

 

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