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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - September 24, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Invasive, non-native Cherokee rose in Elgin TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

We have property in Elgin, TX in Bastrop county which has the red sandydirt-loam. The original owners from the 30's, must have liked the Cherokee rose. The problem is that it is planted around our large tank and is an impenetrable fortress 10 ft wide and 15 ft high around 3/4 of the tank. What is the least poisonous way to get rid of it? We cannot even get close to it with a chain saw to try to cut it out. My husband used Remedy on it in the front of the property and killed it at the site of the old homestead, but I am not a fan of his using poison. It is bad enough he is using it on the mesquite. I don't want to poison the tank because we rent property for cattle. It has probably grown for over 20 or 30 years in this spot and is higher than the cypress trees. In fact, the rose is probably why some of the cypress have died because no sun got to them any more or their roots were choked.

ANSWER:

Rosa laevigata (Cherokee rose), while it is considered an "antique" or "heirloom" rose, it is not a plant native to North America, but to China and Vietnam. We could not agree with you more about the use of herbicides on your property. You must feel like the Prince in Sleeping Beauty, trying to go through a wall of thorns. Herbicides, however, are not the solution. To begin with, you can make a plant the size of a mesquite a little sick, but it probably won't die, and even if it dies, you still need to remove it. Same thing with the roses, they are survivors with deep, well-established roots, and they are not going to go away willingly.

You are going to have to have some help, with equipment, to make your pond accessible and poison-free. We recommend using a tractor-mounted shredder or bush-hog to decapitate the plants to the point where they can get heavy chains around the trunks of the indiviual plants and snatch them out of the ground with the same tractor.  And please, stop with the poisons. You may be contaminating your soil, not to mention the pond water which receives runoff from the soil, killing plants you would like to keep, and it still won't do what you want done.

 

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