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
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
1 rating

Thursday - January 14, 2010

From: Cedar Hill, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Killing mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) with propane torch
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can I kill mesquite with intense fire, such as a 1.2 million BTU propane torch? I know mesquite bounces back from cutting at the soil line. The trees are in Elgin. Thanks

ANSWER:

The US Forest Service describes the effect of fire on Prosopis glandulosa (honey mesquite).  Range fires can reduce the mesquite canopy but usually does not kill them.  Around 90% of the trees survive to resprout from the roots or crowns. The report also shows that using a propane burner at high temperature (>780 degrees F) was successful in killing 100% of young trees (<1.5 years old).  Burning after treating with herbicide (2,4,5-T) resulted in mortality in 24-32% of the trees that had been top-killed by the application as long as four years before.  The explanation for the high percentage of mortality was the fuel provided by the dead material on the treated trees that increased the fire intensity.

The Mesquite Savanna Project at the Vernon Texas A&M station uses herbicides and prescribed burns to manage the mesquite growth form so that there is less foliage on the trees giving grass a better chance of growing beneath the trees.

You might also be interested in reading How to Beat Mesquite from Texas A&M Brush Busters.

Finally, I consulted the Wildflower Center's ecologist, Dr. Mark Simmons, and he said that he hadn't had any experience using propane torches on mesquite. He suspects, however, that there would be meristematic tissue safe below the surface that would allow resprouting. He uses a propane torch for weed control and many perennial herbaceous weeds (including grasses) can resprout after treatment. He thought it certainly would be worth trying but he isn't optimistic that is going to kill all your mesquite.

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Landscaping a new yard in El Paso, TX
July 01, 2010 - I am starting my back yard, we want to plant some sod grass and shade trees. We were doing some research and came across the Paulownia and the Royal Empress tree. I like them since they grow very fast...
view the full question and answer

Can rose Zephirine Drouhin damage brick from Springfield IL
August 22, 2010 - Can ZÉPHIRINE DROUHIN damage brick?
view the full question and answer

Are Bradford pear fruits poisonous to dogs?
January 25, 2009 - Are Bradford pear fruits poisonous to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Native replacement for non-native Bermudagrass in Leander TX
October 16, 2011 - We have Bermuda grass. Large patches have died due to the drought and our yard has been taken over by weeds and St. Augustine grass whose seeds must have blown in. Even when the grass was in great con...
view the full question and answer

Shade ground cover under honeysuckle from Wichita KS
February 21, 2012 - Hi! I know this is a bit odd, but I am trying to find a nontoxic, good ground covering plant that can live in the shade while competing with the roots of a whole bunch of honeysuckle. I have a few ide...
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