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?


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
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


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


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

When should I plant bermuda grass seeds?
February 10, 2010 - When should I plant bermuda grass seeds?
view the full question and answer

Differences between Lantana urticoides and Lantana camara
July 13, 2012 - I have found an orange variety of lantana growning in several location in Jefferson County. Is there any way I can tell for sure if it is L. camara or the native L. urticoides?
view the full question and answer

Prairie remnant threatened by non-native Queen Anne's lace in Dallas
June 09, 2010 - A blackland prairie remnant is being invaded by Queen Ann's Lace. What are the best, least chemical, methods of getting rid of it without damaging the native grasses and wildflowers? Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Plants for north side from Dale TX
February 10, 2012 - What native trees and bushes can I plant on the north side of house? Can I use corn meal( I NEED FIGHT A GRASS) in flowerbed and then plant native wildlife seeds(FLOWERS)?
view the full question and answer

Grassburs in native lawn in Utopia TX
June 22, 2010 - I recently planted native Texas grass (Buffalograss, blue grama & curly mesquite) at my new house in the hill country. I had to bring in all the top soil. The grass is doing great, but in one area o...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center