For most people, the thought of cutting down a tree sounds counter-intuitive to the current climate problems we are facing, but when the tree is of an invasive species, it is time to get the chainsaws whirring. Invasive tree species are a major threat to South African indigenous trees and plants, water supply, and human and animal safety. In this guide, we highlight the top 9 most common invasive tree species in South Africa, the major problems caused by invasive trees, and how you can easily remove a tree from your property with a chainsaw. At B&S Commercial Power, you can easily find an affordable and high-quality chainsaw for sale Cape Town.
9 Invasive Trees in South Africa:
Invasive tree species are trees that have been brought into South Africa, originally for various commercial purposes such as timber, oils, and tannins. The problem with the introduction of alien tree species is that they have no natural enemies in South Africa, meaning that they have been able to quickly grow and spread at alarming rates.
From initially being found in commercial spaces, you will now easily find invasive tree species in bustling cities and your back garden. Before you start revving up your chainsaw, it is important to be able to identify which trees on your property are invasive tree species. To assist, we have listed the 9 most common invasive trees in South Africa.
Eucalyptus trees, also known as gum trees, originate from Australia. Eucalyptus trees were originally introduced into South Africa for firewood and timber, but you will most likely encounter them being used for ornamental purposes due to the sweet fragrance of their leaves. Eucalyptus trees pose a major threat to indigenous trees due to the high quantities of water that they consume. They also emit a toxin into the soil to kill off surrounding trees and plants to reduce their competition for water.
Bugweed, or Solanum mauritianum, is a small tree that is native to South America. You can easily identify Bugweed by its sage-coloured leaves with a soft, velvety texture and compact clusters of purple flowers. Bugweed has spread across South Africa, with a high density being located in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga.
Bugweed is one of the most problematic invasive tree species in South Africa. This tree species quickly takes over and causes growth deformation in other surrounding trees and plants. In KwaZulu-Natal, it acts as a host to the fruit fly, which has drastic impacts on farms. It is also known to aggravate asthma in humans.
Jacaranda, or Jacaranda mimosifolia, is widely known for lining streets in Johannesburg and Pretoria and producing lilac-coloured tubular flowers. Originating from South America, this invasive species is both beautiful and deadly. Jacaranda trees consume high quantities of water, placing nearby local plants and trees under immense pressure.
4) Yellow Bells:
Yellow Bells, or Tecoma stans, originate from South America. Used for ornamental purposes predominantly, this evergreen tree has dark green leaves and yellow bell-shaped flowers. Despite being a small tree only growing to 4 metres high, it can have a drastic impact on its surrounding environment. Yellow Bells spread quickly and tend to dominate any other species in the area. Typically prone to dry regions, this tree impacts grazing animals by destroying all indigenous species in the area.
5) Brazilian Pepper Tree:
The Brazilian Pepper tree, or Schinus terebinthifolius, is an invasive species in South Africa and numerous other countries across the world, including Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean islands, and the United States of America. The Brazilian Pepper tree is a pretty tree with bright red berries and light green leaves, but is a serious threat to South Africa’s biodiversity.
The Brazilian Pepper tree has an extremely quick growth rate, a high germination rate, and can adapt to both dry and wet environments, making it an extremely problematic invasive species. The Brazilian Pepper tree will grow above other trees and produce a dense thicket of leaves that prevent any sunlight from reaching underlying trees and plants, causing them to die. It is highly poisonous to humans, posing a high health hazard.
6) Black Wattle:
The Black Wattle tree, or Acacia mearnsii, is an evergreen tree with olive-green coloured leaves and grows to 10 metres high. You will easily identify a Black Wattle tree by its highly fragrant yellow or cream-coloured spherical flowers. Originally from South-eastern Australia, the Black Wattle tree is now a widely invasive species across South Africa.
Black Wattle trees are especially known to target grasslands, where the dense thickets of these trees will quickly outcompete other indigenous plants. They also pose a threat to grazing animals by destroying their natural food sources. Black Wattle trees also consume a high water volume, which can be a threat to drought-stricken areas.
The Pine tree is one of the oldest invasive species found in South Africa. Originally brought to the Western Cape in 1855 for timber and firewood, the Pine tree has now widely spread across South Africa. The Pine tree is native to the Northern Mediterranean and can grow to 30 metres high with a straight trunk and a canopy of green leaves. You can easily identify a Pine tree by its signature pine cones and needle-shaped leaves.
The problem with Pine trees is that they are highly competitive with indigenous plants. Their dense stands mean that they consume vast quantities of water, thus posing a threat to other plants and animals in the area. Due to their extreme height and mass, they also can highly aggravate a wildfire.
8) Ant Tree:
The Ant tree, or Triplaris americana, comes from Central and South America. This tree grows to a medium height of 10 to 15 metres with bright green leaves and large clusters of light-brown to light red hairy flowers. The tree gained its name from being inhabited by venomous ants when located in South America.
The Ant tree is especially a problematic invasive tree in KwaZulu-Natal. It quickly takes over and kills off other indigenous trees and plants in its vicinity. The leaves are also highly poisonous, posing a health risk to humans and animals.
9) Tree of Hell:
What better name for an invasive tree species than the Tree of Hell, or Ailanthus altissima. Originally from China, this fast-growing tree can quickly reach heights of 20 metres. It is easily identified by its pale grey bark on the tree trunk and bursts of yellow-green flowers during the Spring.
The major problem with this invasive tree species lies with its root system. The dense root system that grows aggressively is known for causing damage to infrastructure. The roots also produce a chemical that is toxic to other plants and prevents them from growing.
Why Remove Invasive Trees?
If you have one of the listed 9 common invasive trees in your garden, you may be wondering whether it is worth removing the tree. The tree may be fully established and offer shade for your garden or have beautiful flowers that bring you joy in the Spring. To demonstrate why you should always remove an invasive tree from your property, we have highlighted the 3 main problems caused by invasive tree species.
Water Supply: Invasive trees generally require more water to survive and grow than native tree species. It is estimated that on average, 1.44 billion m³ of water is consumed by invasive tree species in a year. As a country that experiences consistent droughts, the high water consumption of invasive tree species places both indigenous plants and trees as well as humans and animals under immense threat.
Loss of Indigenous Trees and Plants: Invasive tree species and plant species are a major threat to indigenous biodiversity in an area. Due to their ability to grow rapidly and their resistance to natural enemies and local diseases, invasive trees can quickly spread in an area. This cuts off vital water, sunlight, and nutrient supply to indigenous plants and trees, resulting in mass loss of native South African plants. This then has an impact on animals and insects that originally survived off of the native plants.
Wildfire Risk: A major problem with high volumes of invasive tree species and plant species is increased wildfire risks. Invasive trees and plants generally have denser biomass, which means that if a wildfire breaks out, there is even more fuel for the fire to spread and become more intense. In areas prone to wildfires in South Africa, this can be a severe safety problem for people and animals.
Remove Invasive Trees with a Chainsaw:
The best way to remove any invasive tree species in your garden is with a chainsaw. Chainsaws are robust, high-performance power tools that will make it effortless to chop off tree limbs and cut up the tree trunk of a removed invasive tree species on your property. A chainsaw will make the process fast and easy, allowing you to quickly remove this problematic tree from your home. For the full guide on how to remove a small to medium-sized tree with a chainsaw, you can read our article Stihl Chainsaw: Step-by-Step Guide for Tree Removal in Your Garden.
B&S Commercial Power Chainsaw for Sale Cape Town:
Cut down invasive trees on your property with a chainsaw for sale Cape Town from B&S Commercial Power. You can easily find an affordable and efficient chainsaw for sale Cape Town on our online store or at our Cape Town-based store. We make cutting down invasive trees quick with our easy accessibility to chainsaws for sale Cape Town.
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About B&S Commercial Power:
You can easily find a chainsaw for sale Cape Town and a wide array of power tools with B&S Commercial Power. We stock everything you could need for your commercial, agricultural, forestry, or residential project needs. From maintaining your garden with a ride on mower to mixing concrete on-site with a concrete mixer to felling trees with a chainsaw, we strive to make every project easier with the best available power tools.
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