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Individual Highlight

Strategic treatments to control Chinese tallow tree in maritime forest

Photo of Chinese tallow tree in the understory of a managed pine forest on Parris Island, SC, reduces desirable natural forest diversity. Chinese tallow tree in the understory of a managed pine forest on Parris Island, SC, reduces desirable natural forest diversity. Snapshot : Chinese tallow tree is an aggressive and successful invader in coastal forests of the southeastern US. Forest Service researchers were part of a team that studied how land use history related to successful tallow invasions in a South Carolina maritime forest. They used current understanding of the tallow tree to develop and test alternative strategies for controlling this invasive species while promoting native plant community resilience and restoration.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Walker, Joan L. 
Research Location : Parris Island MCRD, South Carolina
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1326

Summary

Chinese tallow tree is a highly invasive trees species in the southeastern coastal plain of the U.S. Chinese tallow invasions can displace native species, potentially having substantial impacts on timber resources and desirable forest diversity. Forest Service researchers were part of a team that considered both how forest management favors Chinese tallow invasion, as well as how to use management to control it. Controlling Chinese tallow tree is challenging because it can survive by root and stump-sprouting and from seeds stored in the soil. The team developed and tested strategies that combined multiple treatments including chemical treatments and mechanical mastication followed by prescribed burning. Individual actions were scheduled to have the greatest chance of killing target trees and reducing new seedling success. The most effective treatment reduced the number of Chinese tallow trees but did not control new recruits. Although active management may slow or reverse invasion impacts over the long-term, managers must also be careful. Compared to remnant maritime forest, managed areas had much more Chinese tallow. Previous waves of invasion closely followed forest management thinning and burning. While early results are promising, an adaptive management approach will be needed to refine strategies for ecosystem restoration.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • R5, Sierra National Forest
  • Clemson University
  • Department of Defense
  • University of Missouri