Getting inexpensive help with Chinese Tallow

Chinese Tallow
Chinese Tallow
Some of that pretty fall color is due to Chinese Tallow, a noxious weed.  Tallow quickly colonizes disturbed wetlands and woodlands, crowding out native vegetation and changing soil chemistry to make it more favorable to more tallow.  Getting rid of this plant is challenging, and requires the use of chemicals and exposure to poison ivy, fire ants, and other critters.

Here’s the GOOD news:  The water committee and the POA board have secured a grant which will help us treat our tallow.  Matching funds will enable the POA board to treat all the common areas and the conservation easement.  Each homeowner can join in this bonanza, signing up to have the tallow on your lot treated for $100.  For me, this is a no-brainer.  I think the chemicals alone cost about half that, and the idea that someone else will professionally take care of this problem for only $100 is quite exciting.  Here is a 4 minute video explaining the program:

Our goal is to treat all community and private property! See how the donation drive is doing:

Here are some frequently asked questions:

I like the tallow, why do I have to get rid of it?

* Tallow tree is listed as a “severe threat” by the South Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council.

* After habitat destruction, invasive-exotic species are the biggest threat to biodiversity.

* It is a very aggressive invasive; mature trees produce abundant fall fruit that is spread through bird droppings.

* It is an aggressive colonizer of damp habitats and out-competes many native species such as Marshmallow and Willow. Tallow trees have a high water demand during the growing season, causing dewatering of depression wetlands that would otherwise be more open and retain more moisture and surface water for longer duration.

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

* Seeds remain viable in the leaf litter and soils for many years.

* After disturbances from hurricanes and fires, tallow trees are quick to germinate during the first growing season and out-compete native vegetation.

* Fallen leaves from tallow tree produce soil chemicals that promote germination of Chinese Tallow tree sees, this leads to tallow tree dominance.

What will we plant instead?

Nothing is required. Tallow trees typically invade open wetland areas by crowding out native wildflowers, grasses, and willow trees. Once the tallow trees are removed native plants will begin to grow. If privacy is desired between lots then plants from the approved list can be installed. The Land Ecologist can be contacted to help select plantings.

Why do I have to sign a waiver?

To release the POA from any potential liability or damages incurred by the contractor by treating your tallow trees. This is a requirement of the POA’s attorneys’ and insurance company. This does not prevent an owner from seeking redress from the contractor.

Can I treat my tallow trees myself to save money?

The cost to treat each lot is $160 dollars, which includes the cost of the chemical. The grant will give $60 towards an island-wide comprehensive program. Homeowners and outside contractors are welcome to prove certification, obtain the chemicals, and treat the lots themselves, but costs are likely to exceed $100 and they would be ineligible for grant funds.

Will I have to pay this or treat the tallow every year?

Seeds stay viable in the soil for many years. Yearly monitoring and removal of seedlings will be required, whether you participate in the grant program or not (hand pulling works great). The herbicide contractor will re-treat any mature trees which do not die.

Who will clean up the dead trees?

Nature. Tallow trees rot very quickly. Dead trees are valuable for wildlife. If they do not pose a safety hazard then no clean-up is necessary.

Aren’t we prohibited from using herbicides?

Our ARB Guidelines state that herbicides and pesticides must be organic. Clearcast herbicide will be used to treat the tallowtrees. This herbicide is not organic. Currently there is no organic method to treat large numbers of tallow trees like we have on Dewees Island. If we only had a few tallow trees, organic methods might be possible. The EPB studied this issue and approved the eradication of tallow trees and the use of non-organic herbicide. The tallow trees on Dewees pose a bigger ecological threat than the use of the chemical to treat them.

How do I get started?

The waiver and work order was emailed to owners. Simply send Joan an email confirming your participation. Then fill out the waiver & work order, sign it, and return it to the attention of Joan. Joan will bill your lot for the payment. Please have your waiver to Joan by Monday, October 19th.

If you have any questions please contact Lori @ 568-3994 or

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. ExNat

    Congratulations, Dewees community! I hope every member of the association will make the small investment to solve the monsterous problem of controlling island invasives. The program and the results should make a nice “green” marketing point for future property sales.

  2. mike broussard

    I have a lot of them.

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