Two types of woody plant species have become problematic in many habitats across the United States. These include invasive non-native and native woody plants both of which need to be managed to prevent their establishment and proliferation in the habitats they have become problematic.
What are invasive species and why should I care about them?
Invasive plant species are a unique class of plants that can enter a habitat, quickly become established, and change the nature of the habitat. It’s like the invasive plants sneak in and try and act like they belong in, or become ‘owners’ of their new habitat.
As they are getting established, invasive plants are doing everything they can to get rid of native plant species in the habitat. If nothing is done to get rid of them, the invasive plants may become the dominant species within the habitat with an ability to spread into new areas.
While stopping the spread of invasive species is a priority for many land managers, it isn’t easy to identify which species is invasive and has the potential to spread and cause serious damage to the environment, our health, our economy, etc.
How do invasive plant species get here in the first place?
Well, there are two common ways: accidental and intentional introductions.
With accidental introductions, we really don’t know how the plants get here, whereas with intentional introductions, think of those lovely ornamental plants that are brought in from other parts of the world and which you purchase from your local greenhouse or florist. The foreign plants can eventually become invasive because they have no natural enemies in their new habitat.
Two examples of invasive woody plant species are Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolia) and saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima). Both are medium sized hardwood plant species that were introduced in the United States for ornamental or other purposes and have now become invasive plant species.
Habitat … we may have a problem with woody plants … what should we do?
Once invasive plant species become established, preventing their spread is a continuous task for land managers everywhere. Often, the invasive species establish themselves in areas that receive little or no vegetation management, such as conservation lands or along utility rights-of-way, such as in roadside vegetation. Eventually, the invaded habitats may become dominated by the invasive plant species which presents a variety of problems within the invaded habitat and beyond. To restore habitats, the most efficient method available is the use of herbicides.
But wait. Are all woody species invasive?
No, native or non-invasive species can also be problematic. As an example, let’s look at rights-of-way. Rights-of-way are units of land used for transportation, and movement of gas, oil, and electricity (commonly known as utilities). All rights-of-way are managed with a goal of providing safe and reliable transport.
The selective removal of tall-growing invasive and non-invasive woody species that can impede electrical transmission, is a common vegetation management tactic. Otherwise, tall growing weedy species could grow into or near the wire conductors, and cause disruptions in electricity transmission.
Aha, herbicides … the silver bullet that eliminates problematic woody plants … right?
Not so fast. The use of herbicides presents some challenges. Herbicides on the market today are generally classified by their formulation, mode of action, and site of action.
The next challenge then becomes selecting the best herbicide that will control the problematic woody species and applying it without harming desirable species. In doing so, the problematic woody species are managed, and low growing native plants can continue their establishment and contribution to a healthy habitat.
So, how can you use herbicide to kill problematic woody species?
First, you need to select the best technique to use to ensure you get the best delivery of the herbicide and maximum herbicidal activity and control. Second, you need to select the best herbicide for this purpose. Third, you need to select the best surfactant and/or adjuvant to maximize herbicide efficacy and woody plant species control.
Here are some specific guidelines for achieving maximum control of problematic woody plant species:
1. Low volume basal applications using a handheld sprayer, or a backpack sprayer should be the primary method of application. Spray the lower 6 to 12 inches of the bark, being sure to treat all sides of the plant. Spray should be applied to wet the surface, and not so much as to generate runoff.
2. Select the proper herbicide that is approved for the site where you are working. Be sure to read the herbicide label carefully and completely. For best results, select an oil soluble herbicide with instructions for basal applications
3. For best results with low volume basal applications and an oil soluble herbicide, use Improved JLB Oil Plus. This formulation is a low volume basal oil, made with all-natural vegetable oils. Improved JLB Oil Plus is used as a carrier (diluent), and no water is involved.
How does the herbicide-Improved JLB Oil Plus mixture work?
The herbicide-Improved JLB Oil Plus mix will penetrate the bark, and then be transported down to the root system resulting in complete control of the individual target plant. Nearby off-target, desirable trees, and brush, should not be impacted.
This technique can be accomplished on sites where foliar applications to the leaves are often difficult, due to the height of target plants, or due to the intermingling of the leaves of target plants and nearby non-target desirable plants.
Are there additional benefits to using the herbicide-Improved JLB Oil Plus mixture?
Yes. Low volume basal applications can often be as effective in the dormant season, even when leaves are not present, if temperatures and environmental conditions allow. If you choose to use this application method, make sure you read the herbicide label and follow all recommendations.