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Chinese tallow tree

Chinese tallow tree update:

During the spring and summer of 2014 interns and volunteers pulled several thousand Chinese tallow tree seedlings and saplings.  Thank you to everyone for you hard work!  The pictures below do not do justice to the number of Chinese tallow seedlings and saplings removed from several areas on the island.


after1 Before & after site 1


after2 Before & after site 2


after3 Before & after site 3


after4 Before & after site 4

There are still thousands more Chinese tallow seedlings and saplings on Dewees Island and YOUR HELP IS NEEDED to ensure Chinese tallow seedlings and saplings growing on Dewees Island do not reach maturity (tallow trees reach maturity in three years and produce thousands of seeds each year).


How can I help?

Pull Chinese tallow seedlings and saplings on your lot – this September & October are perfect times!

Pull Chinese tallow seedlings and saplings on your neighbor’s lot (with their permission of course).

Treat mature Chinese tallow trees growing on your lot.

Participate in community tallow pulling days.


How can I identify Chinese tallow tree growing on my lot?

Chinese tallow tree is a deciduous tree with simple, alternate leaves; they look similar in shape to an Aspen or Cottonwood leaf.  The leaves turn yellow, orange and red in the fall.  The seed will appear in late fall and resemble popcorn; the alias of this tree is known as the popcorn tree.


The map below shows Chinese tallow tree densities in 2009.  If your lot is yellow, orange or red chances are there is a high potential for numerous seedlings and saplings since each mature tallow tree can produce thousands of seeds each year.  The good news is that with every passing year the number of tallow seeds remaining in the soil becomes less so the intensity of treatment efforts become less.  Please note lots 80 – 82 are coded orange for between 70 – 150 Chinese tallow trees.

tallow densities summer 2009

Appointments are available with the Island Naturalist to assist in the identification and pulling of Chinese tallow tree growing on your lot.  Please call 843.568.3994 for more information.


What should I do about large tallow trees growing on my lot?

Tallow trees which are too large to be hand pulled may be treated with chemical.  A spray bottle with chemical is available for $25.  Please contact the Island Naturalist at 843.568.3994 for more information.


What is a Chinese tallow tree?

Chinese tallow tree also known as the Popcorn tree is native to Asia but was brought to this country in the late 1700’s.  This tree does very well in the Coastal Zone of South Carolina because it can tolerate a wide variety of soils, grows quickly and is resistant to pests.  Left unchecked, this tree eventually monopolizes an area, creating a forest with low biodiversity. The tallow tree is listed as a “severe threat” by the South Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council.  The Nature Conservancy has designated Chinese tallow as one of the “ten worst alien plant invaders” in the United Sates.


Why should I care about Chinese tallow tree?

This non-native aggressive tree grows quickly and can shade out native plants reducing diversity.

Mature trees produce abundant fall fruit that are consumed by birds and spread quickly through bird droppings.

Chinese tallow can tolerate freshwater and saline soils.

A chemical is produced from its decomposing leaves which is believed to prevent nearby plant growth.

Dense stands of large Chinese tallow trees have a high water demand during the growing season, causing dewatering of depression wetlands.

Dewatering of wetlands significantly reduces the biodiversity of amphibians, aquatic insects, water-dependent wildlife and associated plants.


What is the management history of Chinese tallow tree on Dewees Island?

A program to kill Chinese tallow trees on Dewees Island began in 2007. Treatment from 2007-2008 was conducted by community volunteers. Over 9,000 mature tallow trees were estimated growing on the 150 private lots in 2009. In 2009 & 2011 Dewees Island POA received a grant from the USF&WS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. In 2011 the Dewees Island POA also received a grant from the Dewees Island Conservancy.  These grants provided matching funds to hire a contractor to treat tallow trees on Dewees Island. In 2009 all community property and 91 private lots were treated for tallow trees. In 2011 all community property and 88 private lots were retreated along with 52 new lots.  As of November 2011 all community property and 142 private lots have been treated at least once for Chinese tallow tree.


For more information on Chinese tallow tree please visit the following link


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