Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
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

Possibility of consuming Rapistrum rugosum
April 21, 2007 - Reference: "Bastard Cabbage" (Rapistrum rugosum) Garden section of Austin American-Statesman (April 7, 2007) speaks of this weed. As a child, my parents used to pick, cook and eat this weed at the ...
view the full question and answer

Management practices to eradicate Johnson grass
September 02, 2006 - Please suggest some eradication methods for Johnson grass. It is established in a field that I want to encourage native wildflowers/plants such as goldenrod, prairie coneflower, blue eyed grass, milkw...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID of invasive vine from Austin
August 21, 2013 - A friend lives in southwest Austin and has a vine that's coming up all over her yard. I am a Williamson County Master Gardener and have asked all the garden gurus in my group what it is from a photo ...
view the full question and answer

How do I get rid of Smilax bona-nox?
June 09, 2009 - Hi, we live in Circle C and our home backs to an easment area which has become overrun with what some are calling wild grapevine. Recently we noticed a different vine coming up in our backyard throug...
view the full question and answer

Removing invasive Dichelostemma firecracker plant from Austin
April 12, 2012 - We have dichelostemma firecracker plant & cannot kill it. We need help in getting rid of this plant. Spent another 3 hours digging up corms this afternoon. It is invading our backyard & want it kil...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.