The Chinese tallow tree (Popcorn Tree) Triadica sebifera is invasive in South Carolina. Also known as the Popcorn tree is native to Asia but was brought to this country by Ben Franklin 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.
· 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 prevent nearby plant growth.
· Dense stands of large Tallow trees have a high water demand during the growing season, causing dewatering of depression wetlands.
Dewees Island Tallow history:
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 & 2011 Dewees Island POA received a grant from the USF&WS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. This grant 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. To date all community property and 142 private lots are being monitored for Chinese tallow tree. Assessments of the 2011 treatment will continue though this spring and summer. Data collected during the 2013 assessment will determine if another treatment in the fall of 2014 is necessary. For more information on Chinese tallow tree please visit the following link http://www.invasive.org/