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
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

Tropical plants for pool landscape in Plano TX
April 05, 2011 - I have a small yard with a pool that I would like to tropically landscape. It faces west (lots of direct sun) and there is about a 3 foot parameter between the fence and the coping. Currently I have...
view the full question and answer

Coltsfoot invasive in Rindge NH
July 21, 2009 - I live in Rindge NH. My question is how do I stop colts foot from taking over my land? It is getting out of hand.
view the full question and answer

Use of chemicals for eradicating invasive plants
April 24, 2008 - Re: Round Up We are extremely reluctant to use any chemical agents in our yard (or around our home) due to environmental & ecological reasons... However, we are becoming inundated with several ver...
view the full question and answer

Cutting back Pampas grass.
March 27, 2009 - When and how much should I cut back Pampas grass in the Hill Country of Texas.
view the full question and answer

Advocacy of non-native plants.
December 10, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Instead of asking a question, I would like to comment on the seemingly discouraging tone on growing plants or trees out of their native habitat that I have observed from rea...
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