En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - July 07, 2009

From: Hilliard, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants, Compost and Mulch, Propagation, Trees
Title: Eliminating suckers from roots of Moraine locust in Hilliard, OH
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We removed a large Moraine Locust tree and also the stump. Now little trees from the roots are coming up. How do we get rid of these so something else can be planted?

ANSWER:

Moraine locust is apparently a patented selected cultivar of Gleditsia triacanthos (honeylocust). The cultivar lacks the thorns that are so vicious on the original plant, have smaller seed pods and therefore less mess on the ground. They are susceptible to several pests and diseases and can become a weed problem and invasive. Obviously, you already know that since you have had it cut down. Now to get rid of the suckers that are still coming up. They are the plant's last-ditch struggle to survive, which is every organism's primary purpose.  Those "little trees" coming off the roots are, in effect, branches the roots are putting out to get some leaves growing to manufacture food for the roots through photosynthesis. The roots are a storage area for nutrients and will continue to try to stay alive. Of course, you want to nip off those suckiers as soon as they stick their heads up. Eventually, if you got them all, the roots would starve, but this could take a while. 

So, take the battle to the root. Get a bottle of wide-spectrum herbicide and some disposable foam paintbrushes. Dig down to where you can get at the main root. Cut off a slice of that root, exposing a fresh surface. Quickly, within five minutes, before the tree can begin to heal itself, paint the raw surface with the herbicide. This should go down into the circulatory system of the root and begin to kill it. This will also take a while, depending on how much root there is. If you are really determined, you could dig down and locate some more roots going out from the main stump and treat them the same way. Be very careful with the herbicide, avoid spilling it on the ground and contaminating the soil, and don't use spray. A spray could easily stray onto another, more valuable plant, and cause more damage than you intended. Hopefully, this will stop the development of the suckers and permit you to begin planting in the fall. We would also suggest that you remove as much of the root from the ground as possible, and then work some compost into the bed before starting to put in new plants. 

 

More Trees Questions

Possible identification of Physocarpus opulifolius
June 11, 2007 - Can you please tell me what kind of tree has a maple leaf and a white snowball flower?The young and very small tree was already here when i bought my home,it stands only 7 feet tall with a 2 inch t...
view the full question and answer

Small tree to plant with high bush blueberry plants
May 13, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have four wonderful new highbush blueberry plants. I like to plant a native tree nearby to accent them, but cannot find a suitable one. I'd like a tree that is not going ...
view the full question and answer

Problem with mesquite tree limbs
June 13, 2014 - i keep finding some smaller branches of my mesquite tree in the turf area around the tree. when looking at the cut ends, they appear to have a smooth cut around the circumference of the limb about 1/...
view the full question and answer

What will grow under neighbor's overhanging tree in Grosse Pointe Woods MI
May 29, 2011 - My next door neighbor has a beautiful tree that is easily 60 years old and thus not going anywhere. Unfortunately, for me the roots of this tree have extended under a large corner of my back yard. Add...
view the full question and answer

Alleotrophic effects of caffeine found in Ilex species
January 24, 2007 - I'm doing research for my biology class on the alleotrophic effects of caffeine. I'm planning to use Ilex vomitoria as the caffeine-producing plant. As the control I want to use another non-c...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center