Forestry

Can’t even be mad at the deer for this one

I’ve been flagging all the Ailanthus trees (tree of heaven) in the pasture so I can take them down this winter. There are a few that are a bit more pressing so I took them down by hand while I wait until I have access to a chainsaw.

This tree was located on the edge of my wildlife plot and blocked my bow lane from a treestand. With a hand saw the tree was felled. Leaves are left on the tree as they continue to transpire pulling water from the stem which aids in the drying/seasoning process.

I returned the next morning to find this:

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The deer had stripped off every single leaf leaving only the winged samara fruit. Glad something enjoyed the tree at least. More importantly the deer, hopefully goats in the future as the two animals share much of the same browsing habits, will be allies by consuming tree of heaven seedlings that sprout in the future!

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Forestry, General Pasture

My plan for dealing with the Tree of Heaven Infestation (Ailanthus altissima)

I’ve covered why these plants truly deserve the invasive status. The plan is simple but labor intensive. It is the same as the plan I use to control johnson and crab grasses in the garden and bull thistle in the pasture:

Cut down any growth before it reaches maturity and seeds.

For any plants that spread via rhizomes, green growth like leaves are power plants to fuel root growth. Every time these generators are removed, the roots use emergency stores of energy to reinitiate growth expecting those emergency stores to be replenished by new leaves. If the green growth is continuously culled before it can fuel the roots, energy will eventually run out resulting in the death of these hard to kill plants.

It will take time and labor, but the biological approach to pest control is vital to the success of the farm.

Also I apologize for getting sidetracked over the holiday weekend. I went home to visit with friends and family and explored some of the national park nearby so my attention was elsewhere!

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General Pasture

My greatest fear confirmed regarding ecology on the farm: Ailanthus altissima

I have to admit, I suspected this to be the occurrence. Denial is the only thing I have to blame for not investigating further. Whole (unpublished) posts have been written on the great ecological benefits of having sumac trees on the farm.

Alas, as the flowers have given way to seed there is no more doubt that my large grove of sumac trees are actually Tree of Heaven, or Ailanthus altissima.

In fact, you can see one miss-identification in this post regarding this picture:

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In one month of total age (2 weeks from previous image), look at how much these seedlings have grown:

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While I’m collecting my thoughts on our overuse of the term invasive, there is no way to include these trees in that argument. Ailanthus trees exude chemicals like ailanthone to inhibit the growth of other plants helping them establish dominant stands. It is much like juglone excreted by trees of the Juglans genus (eg: black walnut) but at a much more destructive level.

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Without action, these trees will continue to take over and dominate the pasture. The strategy to address this issue will be covered tomorrow.

For now, I must lay to rest my dreams of making the lemonade flavored tea from the sumac fruit.

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