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Thread: Nuisance trees in Central Texas

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Nuisance trees in Central Texas

    I'm still working on a second draft of a land development code at work. I'm trying to find a list of what would be considered nuisance trees for the central Texas (Austin) area, with little luck. Here's the definition of "nuisance tree":

    Tree, nuisance: tree of a species designated as “nuisance trees” in the landscaping regulations; or an exotic tree not native to Central Texas, that may threaten the viability of native plant species and the integrity of the ecosystem; as determined by an arborist or state agency.

    Native and "well adapted" trees will be permitted to meet minimum landscaping requirements.

    Any ideas for a list of nuisance species? (I know the engineering crowd may think that every tree is a nuisance. )
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Dan, your Ag Extension Agent would know.

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    I suppose if it doesn't appear on this list it might be considered a nuisance. The list of nuisance trees would be rather long, no?
    Not for better. Not for worse. And certainly not for lunch.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Most state departments of natural resources maintain a list of invasive or aggressive species. This might be a source if Texas has one. Another option is to see if any of the universities keep a list. Lastly, you might consult the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Most state departments of natural resources maintain a list of invasive or aggressive species. This might be a source if Texas has one. Another option is to see if any of the universities keep a list. Lastly, you might consult the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
    I agree here and you don't necessarily want to say that if it is NOT on list X then it is a nuisance. Rather, you want to say IF ON list Y, then nuisance, and that list would be your DNR/Ag extension's list of invasive species. Reason being that there might be field trials for, say, elm that aren't completed yet and if you exclude them then you are doing a huge disservice. And, 7-8 years ago Q. shumardii might have been excluded under such a scheme, and that's a great tree.

    You also want phraseology that allows you to exclude emergent invasives that we don't know about yet or haven't been introduced, and give that authority to DNR or designate, unless you are adopting by resolution only (and you should) then you have greater flexibility and responsiveness to update the list from TX DNR.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I agree that the Ag Extension is probably a good place to start. Also, whoever manages the park areas around Lake Austin, etc. They probably call this stuff "invasive species," "noxious" or possibly other monikers.

    Around here (which is not too far from you) Salt Cedar (tamarisk) is a huge culprit down by the river because it turns the soil alkaline and drinks up a lot of water. Also, Russian Olive crowd out native cottonwoods that need a lot of encouragement to get established.

    I would also think that the state parks and rec or similar group might have some info, too. Or maybe a research institute at a state university?

    I also agree with Dan Staley about being careful not to simply rule out all non-native species. Many introduced species have become valued and useful trees but are not necessarily posing a risk to indigenous trees or other plant/animal habitats.

    We had a big issue with these questions in developing a restoration plan for the bosque (forested area along the Rio Grande). With so much engineering and management of the space over time, there was a very valid question about what the City wanted to restore it to. For example, as they have cleared tamarisk and Russian olive from the area, they have left these trees as they grow along the banks. This is because they stabilize the banks and provide habitat for bank beavers. But, bank beavers are not indigenous to the area - they migrated from other parts of the river over the last centnury. Nonetheless, they found that the beavers serve an important niche function in the larger ecosystem, so they get to stay...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian Plus
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    Intersting data base for any state:
    The National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC)
    http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/about.shtml

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    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Any ideas for a list of nuisance species? (I know the engineering crowd may think that every tree is a nuisance. )
    i think everyone i know in austin has some wicked cedar allergies and would consider them a nuisance

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    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cellophane View post
    i think everyone i know in austin has some wicked cedar allergies and would consider them a nuisance
    I remember those days in Dallas...

    Nonetheless, this brings up an interesting issue, as oak spp are BVOC emitters and make AQ attainment problematic, as their benzenes and terpenes contribute to LL O3 formation. So perhaps a definition of 'nuisance' might be in order as well.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cellophane View post
    i think everyone i know in austin has some wicked cedar allergies and would consider them a nuisance
    We've got it here in Albuquerque, too. This weekend was really horrible for me.

    Albuquerque does ban the sale of certain trees within the city limits because of allergy problems. This includes juniper (what they mean by "cedar" in Austin and ABQ - they are also called "false cedars"), elms and mulberries among a few others. I think a certain variety of cottonwood is included as well.

    So, yes, a definition of "nuisance" would seem to be in order. Could include human health issues, safety (large cottonwoods shed branches when mature - don't wanna plant those over a roadway) and ecosystem health (crowding out other critical plants, animals, etc.)
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    My suggestion is to give a list of permitted trees in a technical manual for your unified development code, along with criteria for evaluating unlisted species. As for the ones you should definitely avoid, my prior employer listed the following as "unprotected trees" for the purpose of tree preservation: Chinaberry, Hackberry, Ashe Juniper (a.k.a. Mountain Cedar), Chinese Tallow and Bois D’arc. However, nobody in their right mind would plant those. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen them for sale.

    Here's a piece from the tree ordinance from a prior employer. You should check with the Ag extension to verify what is/is not appropriate. My suggestion is to send them a list to comment on, rather than ask them to name the trees that are OK. I think you could create a criteria list for unacceptable trees based on the characteristics given below, but you definitely want to list a few specifically as unacceptable.

    (1) General. The tree species lists contained herein have been developed and will be periodically updated by the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission and shall be maintained and distributed to the public by the Director as guides for the identification and selection of tree species that meet the various standards and requirements of this section. Trees included on these tree species lists were selected on the basis of one or more of the following criteria or factors: hardiness, resistance to disease, suitability relative to local climate and soil conditions, adaptability for transplantation, longevity, adaptability to various landscape conditions, resistance to drought, aesthetic qualities, shade provision, windbreak provision, and screening qualities.

    (2) Approved Tree Planting and Replacement List. Only those tree species found on the following Approved Tree Planting and Replacement List shall satisfy the tree planting and replacement standards and requirements of this section.

    Approved Tree Planting and Replacement List

    Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana)
    Escarpment live oak (Quercus fusiformis)
    Shumard oak (Quercus shumardi)
    Chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)
    Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
    Sawtooth oak (Quercus acutissima)
    Texas red oak (Quercus texana)
    Water oak (Quercus *****)
    Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)
    Winged elm (Ulmus alata)
    Lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia)
    Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)
    Pecans and hickories (Carya species)
    Chinese pistache (Pistachia chinensis)
    Texas ash (Fraxinus texensis)
    Western soapberry (Sapindus drummondii)
    Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
    Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
    Eldarica pine (Pinus eldarica)
    Pines (Pinus species)
    Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandi)
    Black Walnut (Juglans *****)
    Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
    Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. Texensis)

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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  12. #12
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    I think "invasive species" might be a better term than "nuisance trees." Nuisance implies it's just annoying.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop View post
    I think "invasive species" might be a better term than "nuisance trees." Nuisance implies it's just annoying.
    Except that some of the "problem" trees are not invasive, like junipers (cedars). They have banned the planting of junipers in Albuquerque, for example, because the concentration has become so high that the allergy-related health problems are a significant concern (allergy induced asthma especially).

    "Noxious" is another term often used which could apply to an indigenous plant that is propagated beyond what is healthy for us or the environment in general or one that is invasive and causing problems because it seeks opportunity and dominance in a new environment. For indigenous flora, the real problem is really people planting too much of it or creating an attractive environment for it to thrive where it normally would be kept in check by other factors.

    Plus, if you call plants that negatively impact health (ours or the environment in general) "noxious," then the people that plant them can be "obnoxious"
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post

    Tree, nuisance: tree of a species designated as “nuisance trees” in the landscaping regulations; or an exotic tree not native to Central Texas, that may threaten the viability of native plant species and the integrity of the ecosystem; as determined by an arborist or state agency.
    Certainly allergenic trees can be a nuisance (as defined by you). I would also argue that trees in restricted spaces that have a propensity to conflict with gray infrastructure are nuisances. And ones that tend to drop large branches or fail catastrophically.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Thanks all!
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  16. #16
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Okay ... here's what I've got.

    Native tall trees

     American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)
     Anaqua (Ehretia anacua)
     Autumn Blaze Maple (Acer freemanii)
     Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum var. distichum)
     Blackjack Oak (Quercus marilandica)
     Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
     Bradford Pear (female only) (Pyrus calleryana bradfordii)
     Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
     Carpathian English Walnut (Juglans regia 'Carpathian')
     Cedar Elm (female only) (Ulmus crassifolia)
     Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muhlenbergii)
     Durand Oak (Quercus sinuate)
     Escarpment Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis)
     Holly Oak (Quercus ilex)
     Goldenraintree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
     Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioica)
     Lacebark Elm (female only) (Ulmus parvifolia)
     Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)
     Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
     Monterey Oak (Quercus polymorpha)
     Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum)
     Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)
     Overcup Oak (Quercus lyrata)
     Pecan (Carya illinoiensis)
     Red Oak (Quercus lobatae)
     Red Maple (female only) (Acer rubrum)
     Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima)
     Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea)
     Shumard Oak (Quercus shumardii)
     Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
     Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
     Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
     Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
     Texas Ash (female only) (Fraxinus texensis)
     Texas Red Oak (Quercus texana)
     Western Soapberry (Sapindus drummondii)
     White Oak (Quercus alba)
     Winged Elm (female only) (Ulmus alata)
     Yellow Buckeye (Aesculus pavia var. flavescens)
     Yellow Popular (Liriodendron tulipifera)
     Established canopy trees ≥30’ tall with a ≥4” caliper of other species, that are not on the nuisance tree list.

    Native short trees

     American Smoke Tree (Cotinus obovatus)
     Big Tooth Maple (Acer grandidentatum)
     Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium)
     Carolina Buckthorn (Frangula caroliniana)
     Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana)
     Chitalpa (Chitalpa)
     Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
     Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
     Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
     Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
     Eve’s Necklace (Styphnolobium affine)
     Evergreen Sumac (Rhus virens)
     Goldenball Lead Tree (Leucaena retusa)
     Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana)
     Lacey Oak (Quercus laceyi)
     Mexican Buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa)
     Mexican Plum (Prunus Mexicana)
     Mexican Poinciana (Caesalpinia mexicana)
     Mexican Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. Mexicana)
     Mountain Laurel (Calia secundiflora)
     Possumhaw Holly (Ilex decidua)
     Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)
     Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum)
     Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)
     Smokeberry (Cotinus coggygria)
     Soapberry (Sapindus drummondii)
     Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
     Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora)
     Texas Persimmon (Diospyros texana)
     Texas Pistachio (Pistacia texana)
     Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis)
     Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)
     Western Soapberry (Sapindus drummondii)
     Established ornamental and understory trees 10’ - <30’ tall with a ≥3” caliper of other species, that are not on the nuisance tree list.

    Nuisance trees

     Bois d'arc (Maclura pomifera)
     Boxelder Maple (Acer negundo)
     Cedar (all) (Cedrus)
     Chinaberry (Melia azedarach)
     Chinese Parasol Tree (Firmiana simplex)
     Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)
     Chinese Tallow (Sapium sebiferum)
     Eastern Cottonwood (female) (Populus deltoids)
     Euonymus (all) (Euonymus)
     Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
     Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
     Honeysuckle (all) (Lonicera)
     Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata)
     Juniper (males) (Juniperus)
     Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)
     Mimosa (Albizzia julibrissin)
     Mulberry (all) (Morus)
     Paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa)
     Olive (Olea, Elenganus)
     Red-Tipped Photinia (Photinia x fraseri)
     Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
     Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
     Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
     Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Why is locust on the list?

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    From a note in the code re: nuisance plants

    Plants included on this list were selected on the basis of one or more of the following criteria or factors: invasive nature, short lifespan, messiness, brittle wood and/or bark, significant disease and/or pest problems, allergen production, disagreeable odor, poison fruit, toxicity and/or allelopaty, tendency to dominate plant communities or threaten the viability of native and adapted plant species, and other undesirable traits that outweigh their benefit to the environment.

    Honey locust is known for thorns, unwanted seedlings, and invasive nature. It's on many municipal nuisance tree lists.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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