Think twice before planting these trees!
As America gears up for the spring planting season, stores and nurseries across the nation will stock millions of trees. Some of them will be labeled, "Fast growing," and those are words that bring joy to the hearts of tree-planters. Be careful! Here are three fast-growing trees that you may regret planting.
|Bradford Pear image by Britt Slattery,|
US Fish and Wildlife Service.
In winter, the Bradford Pear is not so attractive because its broken parts are no longer hidden by its leaves. And this tree does typically have a lot of broken parts. The dense branching, narrow branch crotches and weak wood cause it to break in wind, snow, ice -- and even heavy rain!
I have personally seen dozens of Bradford Pears severely damaged by weather events. Often the whole tree splits apart and an entire quarter or half of the tree tears away and falls to the ground.
If the tree lasts more than ten years without a disfiguring loss of branches or a partially dead crown, count yourself lucky. Bradford pears are very short-lived (30 years, max.)
|Wikimedia image by Simon Garbutt (SiGarb)|
Mimosas grow all over the southeastern United States, where they have naturalized after being introduced as an ornamental in 1745. They are an invasive species; that is, they reproduce so freely and rapidly in the wild that they displace native species. That alone is good reason not to plant them. Mimosa seedlings and suckers will invade any part of your yard that's not regularly mowed and any flower bed that's not frequently weeded. They will also invade your neighbor's yard and flower beds!
Besides being extremely invasive, the mimosa is a problem tree because of its weak, brittle wood which often breaks in storms. It is vulnerable to a number of insects, and it is very short lived (15 to 20 years.)
Lombardy poplars grow very fast indeed, and their narrow columnar shape makes them desirable for tight spaces. However, they are weak-wooded and very short-lived due to their susceptibility to disease. They send up suckers from their roots in a hundred-foot circle or more. Their rooting system includes extensive surface roots which can make mowing difficult.
Even the "hybrid poplars" that are touted to have a longer lifespan will die young. We planted ten hybrid poplars about 15 years ago, and three have already died. In retrospect, we regret planting them, even though they served their purpose effectively for a few years as a screen from the road.
An interesting history of the Lombardy poplar (pdf)
|Flikr image by wallygrom|