Friday, 3 April 2009

Common Trees with Aggressive Roots

This is a problem I've touched on previously, but I'm amazed at how often people plant or leave trees with strong roots to do their damage. The initial title for this post was going to be: Warning: Trees With Evil Roots. But I can't really call them bad can I? These trees have amazing roots, and as a result they are usually very fast growing, are often able to shrug off many diseases and pests, and are able to withstand drought easily. So really, they are incredibly well-designed plants.

But the problem comes in when they are planted near drains, walls, paving, or in small gardens. The following trees are just the most common trees that I see mistakenly planted:
  1. Ficus (Fig tree)
  2. Erythrina (Coral tree)
  3. Cussonia (Cabbage Tree)
  4. Schefflera (Common Cabbage Tree)
  5. Caesalpinia ferrea (Leopard Tree)
These all have the tendency to damage pathways or drains if planted too near. A couple of restaurants in Durban (Manna Restaurant & Churchill's Coffee Shop) have planted groves of Leopard trees in their outside areas, and while they're great at the moment to sit under, they are doing huge damage to the drains below.



Leopard Trees - Soft and Aggressive

I also often see damage to walls by plants that expand outward, putting pressure on foundations and walls. They are planted when they are still small, but in time get much bigger than anticipated. Some of these are:
  1. Chrysalidocarpus lutescens (Bamboo Palm)
  2. Strelitzia reginae
  3. Many palms are planted while still small, but get much thicker.
Are there any plants that you've noticed in your part of the world that need warning labels?

3 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Hi

Can I plant a leapard tree in a pot?

Ross said...

Yes, It would grow fine in a pot - it may in time break the pot, and will need to be well fed and watered, but should be quite happy. It will probably also be necessary to prune it back from time to time.

A common mistake people make is using a too-small pot which the tree quickly out-grows. Try to use the biggest pot size possible for the area its going into - this will give the best reservoir of water and nutrients for the tree.

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