A gardener turned to the internet for advice after discovering their “native foods paradise” could be in trouble.
In the subreddit r/NativePlantGardening, the Redditor explained how they were planning to seed their yard with veggies, pumpkins, and marigolds, which would join a variety of native plants already growing.
The problem? An invasive species called “tree of heaven” had begun to take over, and they wanted something that would “choke” the plant.
“If it’s only just appeared in your yard you may be able to manage it with aggressive hand-pulling or digging out roots, but it is incredibly aggressive and the root systems store a huge amount of energy,” one commenter said.
As detailed by the Nature Conservancy, tree of heaven arrived in the United States from China in the 1700s. Its roots damage pavement and building foundations, and the tree creates an “abundant amount of seeds” that can rapidly overpower native species and even make the soil toxic to other plants.
In addition to saving homeowners time and money on lawn care, native plants are essential to protect the health of local ecosystems, providing food for wildlife and beneficial insects, including bees.
The winged creatures pollinate 71 of the 100 crop species responsible for 90% of all the food consumed globally, according to the U.N. Environment Programme.
Some people have controlled the invasive tree of heaven with herbicides, but thankfully, like with weeds and garden-damaging pests, there are ways to get rid of it without toxic chemicals that hurt pollinators — even if it might be sweat-inducing work.
“That plant is incredibly impressive in its survivability,” one Redditor commented, pointing to the “intensive hand-pulling” required to remove young seedlings.
“If that tree of heaven is new…act now while you still can. … Be prepared to pull again next spring. Hopefully after a season you can successfully remove it,” another said.
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