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Mr. Smarty Plants - Controlling native chickasaw plum

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Wednesday - July 23, 2008

From: Griffin, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Controlling native chickasaw plum
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do we kill the chickasaw plum? We have an abundance and want to get rid of them.

ANSWER:

Gee, we kind of hate to see you do that. Prunus angustifolia (Chickasaw plum) is a nice shrub or small tree, with edible fruit that makes good jam and jellies. See this USDA Forest Service Chickasaw Plum for more information. It can become invasive, as you have apparently learned, because of the fruit drop, reseeding itself. It has lovely spring flowers and attracts birds; but, again, those birds eat the fruit, and drop the seed, propagating the plant again. And, of course, there are those thorn-like side branches.

However, you know what you need to do with your own property better than we do. Just like most garden jobs, there is no quick and easy way to do this. We found this website from Ohio State University Extension on Controlling Undesirable Trees. The best and most thorough way is to dig up the plant. This is probably more labor intensive than what you had in mind, but in the case of smaller shrubs, it will prevent further fruiting that will spread the plant. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center neither recommends for nor against use of herbicides; however, it is sometimes necessary for certain purposes. From several sources, we gathered the information that the best thing is to cut the tree down, as close to the ground as possible, preferably in summer. Within 5 minutes, the cut surfaces should be treated with the appropriate herbicide. You could spray the herbicide, but if you are concerned about drift from wind, use a disposable paint brush and brush it thoroughly. Be very careful about getting the herbicide in the soil, as you don't want to poison it for more desirable plants in the future. At some point, depending on the future use of the land, you will probably want to come back and grub out the roots and stump.

 

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