Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Even the Deer Dislike the Invasive Species

I winding down my rant on invasive species.  May is Invasive Species Month in Illinois.  It was my goal for the month of may to increase awareness and to teach my readers about the problem we have with invasive species.
With only a few days left of May, I will end this series with some facts about what the invasive species have already done to our woodlands.  I hope that my readers realize that this is only the tip of the iceberg.  With out efforts to control these invaders, we will see more and more of our native plants disappear only to be replaced with unwanted, harmful invasive species.
Here's is a great example of what is happening in our woodlands and what we can do to prevent it from getting worse and reverse the effects of what the invasive species have already done.
With a growing deer problem in our local forest preserves, our woodlands have been barren of many of the spring flowers that used to decorate them. Battling the problem of being shaded out by European buckthorn later in the Spring and crowded out by invasive garlic mustard in early summer, the woodland floor is lacking many of the native species that once adorned it. Simply put, the species are just gone.  And, the have disappeared because the invasive species took over making it impossible for the native species to thrive.
Some of the most unfortunate losses are the ramp or wild leek and the Virginia bluebell, martensia virginica, which colonizes wooded floodplains along our waterways and also creates stands in our woodlands. This is one of the most beautiful flowers and it is a shame that are all but 'extinct'.  The striking blue flowers are a welcome sight after a long drab winter, blooming at the same time as many of our early blooming native trees such as wild plum and redbuds. The plants dissapear by June but by then our attention is diverted by many other of mother nature's offerings.  Cleaning up areas where these plants can thrive will help bring them back.  Plant them and carefully monitor the area for invasive species.  Contact your local tree service, like Trees "R" Us, Inc. on the North Shore to help you care for your plants and remove unwanted ones.  With the help of one of the Trees "R" Us, Inc.'s arborists in our plant health care division, you will be well on your way to doing your part to restore the woodland to what they were meant to be.  Contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. at or by phone at 847-913-9069.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Let's Prevent the Invasive Species from Taking Over

The most effective strategy against invasive species is to prevent them from ever being introduced and established. Preventive measures typically offer the most cost-effective means to minimize or eliminate environmental and economic impacts. Prevention relies on a diverse set of tools and methods, including education. Trees "R" Us, Inc. has a wealth of experience and skills to help you combat your unwanted plants and trees. As an agency capable of working across the landscape, Trees "R" Us, Inc. is in a good position to lead efforts to prevent potential invaders for your residence or business.
Our emphasis will be to identify and protect forests and grasslands that have not been invaded by invasive species. Prevention includes education and outreach to raise the awareness of the invasive species problem and reduce the chance of unintentional introduction of invasive species. By enlisting the skills of our highly qualified staff and certified arborists, as well as our plant health care program, we can achieve a successful invasive species prevention and awareness throughout the North Shore and the suburbs of Chicago. Establishing effective and collaborative partnerships with you as a home owner or business owner is also critical for effective prevention.  Please feel free to contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. anytime with your questions or concerns about your landscape or yard. or 847-913-9069
We are dedicated to the tree care and tree maintenance industry and in helping our beautiful North Shore area and the Northwest suburbs combat invasive species.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, May 28, 2012

Invasive Species Month is Almost Over. Here's How you Can do Your Part

What You Can Do

Increased awareness and changes to everyday actions can help stop the spread of exotic invasive species in Illinois; you can help stop the spread.
Clean your boots before hiking
Follow these simple steps to help stop the spread of Invasive Species:
Aquarium and water garden enthusiasts
  • Do not release aquatic invasive plants into any waters; dispose of unwanted aquarium or water garden plants in the trash.
  • Select non-invasive aquatic plants for your water garden or fish tank; there are many native and non-invasive alternatives you can buy instead of invasive plants.
  • Rinse your aquatic garden plants before planting.
  • Keep aquatic plants contained in your water gardens.
  • Don't release unwanted aquarium fish and other pets, live bait or other exotic animals into the wild. If you plan to own an exotic pet, do your research and plan ahead to make sure you can commit to looking after it.
Hikers, hunters, and campers
  • Clean your boots and clothing before you hike in a new area to get rid of hitchhiking weed seeds and pathogens.
  • Don't use invasive plants in food plots and clean all soil and plant material off of equipment used to install food plots
  • Boats and trailers can spread aquatic plants
  • Don''t move firewood (it can harbor forest pests).
Anglers and boaters
  • Clean all plant stems and fragments and mud from boats and trailers before leaving your lake or river.
  • Empty all water from live well before moving to a new body of water
  • Dispose of leftover bait in the trash, not in the water
  • Clean out waders and wading boots before moving to a new body of water
Volunteer to help remove invasive plants
  • Control invasive species if they occur on your land
  • Don't "pack a pest" when traveling. Fruits and vegetables, plants, insects and animals can carry pests or become invasive themselves. Throw out food before you travel from place to place.
  • Volunteer at your local park, refuge or other wildlife area to help remove invasive species.
  • Help educate others about the threat of invasive species.
  • Contact your local tree service or arborist to help you identify invasive species in your yard and remove them properly.
  • Trees "R" Us, Inc. in Chicago serves the North Shore and its surrounding suburbs.  Contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. to find out more about our plant health care division and how we can help you fight back against the invasive species that are overtaking your yard and landscape.
  • 847-913-9069
Thanks for reading,

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Giant Hogweed is a Hog of a Problem

Giant Hogweed is a plant that everyone should be aware of due to its very harmful qualities. It is extremely important to have Giant Hogweed removed from your yard, especially if you have kids and pets playing in the area as it can produce burns and scars when it touched the skin.

Giant Hogweed is a biennial or perennial herb growing from a forked or branched taproot. Plants sprout in early spring from the roots or from seeds.

Giant Hogweed is a member of the carrot or parsley family (Apiaceae) that was introduced into Europe and North America in the early 1900s. It is native to the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Its massive size and imposing appearance made it desirable for arboretums and gardens.  Giant Hogweed soon escaped from cultivation and became established in rich, moist soils along roadside ditches, stream banks, waste ground, along tree lines and open wooded areas.  The plant's name comes from Hercules, of ancient mythological fame, and Giant Hogweed is aptly described as robust in appearance.

Hogweed is Hazardous!

This tall majestic plant is a public health hazard because of its potential to cause severe skin irritation in susceptible people. Plant sap produces painful, burning blisters within 24 to 48 hours after contact. Plant juices also can produce painless red blotches that later develop into purplish or brownish scars that may persist for several years. For an adverse reaction to occur, the skin, contaminated with plant juices, must be moist (perspiration) and then exposed to sunlight. Some other plants are capable of causing this reaction, known as phytophotodermatitis (Phyto=plant, Photo=light), including several that are also in the Giant Hogweed family.

Giant Hogweed is a Federal Noxious Weed, making it unlawful to propagate, sell or transport this plant.

The USDA has been surveying for this weed since 1998.

How to Recognize Giant Hogweed

The best time to identify Giant Hogweed is when it's blooming.

Flowers: numerous small white flowers in June or July, clustered into a flat- topped umbel up to 21⁄2 ft. across.

Stems are hollow, ridged, 2-4 in. in diameter, 8-14 ft. tall, with purple blotches and coarse white hairs. The hairs are especially prominent that circle the stem at the base of the leaf stalks.

Leaves are lobed, deeply incised and up to 5 ft. across.

Fruit (containing the seed) is dry, flat- tened, oval, about 3/8 in. long and tan with brown lines.

Prevention and Control

If you are in the Chicagoland area and suspect Giant Hogweed is on your property, please call Trees "R" Us, Inc. and describe the plant so our staff can verify its identity. If the plant is Giant Hogweed, we will make arrangements to visit your property, assess the site and discuss our management strategies with you. The Trees "R" Us, Inc. staff has knowledge of which herbicide combinations are effective in controlling this noxious weed. Once a control program is initiated, our staff will visit your property periodically to determine the success of the efforts and to check for any new seedlings that may have sprouted. Since Hogweed seeds may remain dormant in the soil for at least 5 years, eradication requires a long term commitment, something the Trees "R" Us, Inc. staff is prepared to make.

Mowing, cutting and weed whacking are not recommended as a means of control because the plant's large perennial root system soon sends up new growth. Also, these tactics are risky because they increase the opportunities for homeowners to come in contact with the plant's sap.

Giant Hogweed is spread naturally by seeds, which can be wind-blown and scattered several feet from the parent plant or may be carried by water to invade new areas. However, people are usually respon- sible for spreading Giant Hogweed over long distances. Seeds or young plants from a friend's garden, planted in new locations, help spread this weed quickly over distances much greater than the plant would spread naturally. The dried fruit clusters are sometimes used in decorative arrangements, and when discarded outdoors, can start a new patch of Giant Hogweed.

Both Trees "R" Us, Inc. and USDA strongly encourage homeowners/landowners to call their local professional tree service that has a plant health care division as the first step towards managing a suspected Hogweed infestation.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. offers plant health care as well as a highly knowledgeable staff that includes 4 certified arborists.  When you choose Trees "R" Us, Inc. you can rest assured that you've made the right choice for your tree care, tree maintenance, and plant health care needs.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. services the North Shore and the Northwest suburbs of Chicago.  You can contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. via the web at or by phone at 847-913-9069.

Thanks for reading, 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What on Earth is Mile a Minute Vine?

Yes, it is yet another invasive species.

Mile-a-minute weed, or Asiatic tearthumb, is an herbaceous, annual, trailing vine. Stems are armed with recurved barbs which are also present on the underside of the leaf blades. The light green colored leaves are shaped like a triangle and alternate along the narrow, delicate stems. Distinctive circular, cup-shaped leafy structures, called ocreae, surround the stem at nodes, thus the name ‘perfoliata.’ Flower buds, and later flowers and fruits, emerge from within the ocreae. Flowers are small, white and generally inconspicuous. The fruits are attractive, deep blue and arranged in clusters at terminals. Each berry-like fruit contains a single glossy, black or reddish-black hard seed.

Mile-a-minute weed grows rapidly, scrambling over shrubs and other vegetation, blocking the foliage of covered plants from available light, and reducing their ability to photosynthesize, which stresses and weakens them. In addition, the weight and pressure of the vine causes distortion of stems and branches of covered plants. If left unchecked, reduced photosynthesis can kill a plant. Large infestations of mile-a-minute weed eventually reduce native plant species in natural areas. Small populations of extremely rare plants may be eliminated entirely. Because it can smother tree seedlings, mile-a-minute weed has a negative effect on Christmas tree farms, forestry operations on pine plantations and reforestation of natural areas. It has the potential to be a problem to nursery and horticulture crops that are not regularly tilled as a cultivation practice.

Mile-a-minute weed generally colonizes open and disturbed areas, along the edges of woods, wetlands, stream banks, and roadsides, and uncultivated open fields, resulting from both natural and human causes. Natural areas such as stream banks, parks, open space, road shoulders, forest edges and fence lines are all typical areas to find mile-a-minute. It also occurs in environments that are extremely wet with poor soil structure. Available light and soil moisture are both integral to the successful colonization of this species. It will tolerate shade for a part of the day but does best in full sunlight. The ability of mile-a-minute to attach to other plants with its recurved barbs and climb over the plants to reach an area of high light intensity is a key to its survival. It can survive in areas with relatively low soil moisture, but demonstrates a preference for high soil moisture.

Mile-a-minute weed is primarily a self-pollinating plant (supported by its inconspicuous, closed flowers and lack of a detectable scent), with occasional out-crossing. Fruits and viable seeds are produced without assistance from pollinators. Vines generally die with the first frost. Mile-a-minute is a prolific seeder, producing many seeds on a single plant over a long season, from June until October in Virginia, and a slightly shorter season in more northern geographic areas. Seed persists in the soil for as long as 6 years, with staggered germination over the years.

Birds are probably the primary long-distance dispersal agents of mile-a-minute weed. Transport along powerlines and other utility rights-of-way can provide an important dispersal corridor for mile-a-minute. Transport of seeds short distances by at least one ant species has been observed and may play a role in the survival and germination of mile-a-minute seeds but further investigation is needed. The tip of the seeds bear an elaiosome (nutritious food body) which may be attractive to the ants. Local bird populations are important for dispersal under utility lines, bird feeders, fence lines and other perching locations. Other animals observed eating mile-a-minute weed fruits are chipmunks, squirrels and deer and viable seeds have been found in deer scat. Water is an important mode of dispersal for mile-a-minute weed. Its fruits can remain buoyant for 7-9 days giving it the ability to disperse long distances in stream and river environments. Where long vines hang over waterways, fruits that detach are easily carried away in the water current. Storm events increase the likelihood of spread by seed throughout watersheds.

A variety of control measures can be used for management of mile-a-minute weed depending on the level of infestation and resources available. Remember that even if all plants are removed, efforts must continue for several years to exhaust any remaining seed bank.

A biological control program targeting mile-a-minute weed was initiated by the US Forest Service in 1996, with field surveys in China and subsequent host specificity testing in quarantine in the US. A small weevil, Rhinoncomimus latipes Korotyaev, was found to be host-specific to mile-a-minute weed, and field release was approved by USDA-APHIS in 2004. Weevil adults feed on mile-a-minute foliage, and larvae feed within nodes and can suppress growth and reduce seed production. The weevils are active from early spring through the fall, completing multiple generations. Weevils released in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia between 2004 and 2007 established at 54/56 (96.4%) of sites where they had been released. Standardized monitoring showed reductions in spring densities to 25% or less of what they had been at the start within 2-3 years following release. Weevils recorded at non-release sites indicated dispersal at an average rate of 4.3 km (2.7 miles) per year. Weevils are being reared at the Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insects Lab in Trenton, NJ, but are not generally available. In 2009, new releases were conducted in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

Mile-a-minute is sensitive to moderate rates of widely used herbicides. However, because it can begin setting seed by mid-June, and will grow onto and over desirable vegetation, selective control with herbicides is difficult. Extensive infestations in high-priority areas can be treated with a pre-emergence herbicide to kill plants as they germinate in the early spring, with follow-up applications using post-emergence herbicides to eliminate escapees. Sparse populations are better treated with post-emergence herbicides. Pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides are available to treat mile-a-minute effectively depending on the site value and extent of infestation. For most situations, the post-emergent herbicides triclopyr (Garlon 3A) and glyphosate (Glyphomate 41), with little to no soil activity respectively, are the best choice. Both products are labeled for aquatic use and pose little threat to other organisms.

Cultural methods can be utilized to discourage the introduction of mile-a-minute to an area. It is important to maintain vegetative community stability and to avoid creating gaps or openings in existing vegetation. Maintaining broad vegetative buffers along streams and forest edges will help to shade out and prevent establishment of mile-a-minute weed. This will also help to reduce the dispersal of fruits by water.

Hand pulling of seedlings is best done before the recurved barbs on the stem and leaves harden, but may be done afterwards with the help of thick gloves. Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt will help prevent skin abrasion. Manual removal of vines may be conducted throughout the summer but use caution once seeds have developed to prevent spread to new areas. The delicate vines can be reeled in fairly easily, balled up and placed in large piles that can be left to desiccate for several days or longer. Try to pull up the whole plant including its roots. Depending on the site and situation, piles can either be incinerated or burned, left in place until the following year and monitored for emergence of new seedlings or, if necessary, bagged and disposed of in a landfill (not the best option if seeds are present). Previously infested sites need to be rechecked several times each year, and new plants removed until the seed germination period is complete (roughly early April until early July in the middle Atlantic states).

For low growing infestations that cover the ground, repeated mowing or weed whipping of vines will reduce the plants reserves and prevent or reduce flowering which in turn reduces fruit and seed production.

For proper identification and removal of Mile a Minute Vine, call Trees "R" Us, Inc. Our plant health care division strives to keep your trees and plants healthy and free from attack from the invasive species that creep up in yards.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. is a professional tree service that provides quality tree care to businesses and residences on the north shore and northwest suburbs of Chicago.  Contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. by visiting our website at, or call us 847-913-9069.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Poison Hemlock - Something To Watch Out For

Most of the time, weeds simply bother gardeners by getting in the way of their plants in lawns and shrub beds. We seldom think of weeds as being dangerous. But poison hemlock in particular has chemical components that can harm people and animals.

This plant was introduced to North America from Europe, and has often been mistaken for a garden ornamental. The plant is attractive, but can be lethal to people and animals.  Poison hemlock is acutely toxic to people and animals. 

Poison hemlock is a member of the wild carrot family, and is common along roadsides, open fields, waterways, natural areas and in cultivated areas. It resembles anise or wild parsley, and is classified in the family Umbelliferae, the parsley family. All parts of this plant are poisonous: leaves, stems, roots, and fruits. Poison hemlock contains volatile alkaloids that have been used as a poison since ancient times. It is unrelated to the native evergreen hemlock tree.  And, more importantly, poison-hemlock can be deadly.

The famous incident of Socrates' death in Athens in 329 BC occurred when he was given the juice of poison hemlock to drink.

How can you identify it? Look closely at the stem of any plant you may suspect of being poison hemlock. The stem is hollow, smooth (not hairy) and marked with purple streaks and blotches. These blotches and streaks on a green hollow hairless stem, and the mottled purple spots, are definite identifiers of the plant. The finely divided leaves, fern-like, resemble Queen Anne's lace. Flowers are lacy and white, appearing from late May to August.  It can get quite tall, sometimes up to 8 feet or higher. It produces many flower heads in a more open and branching inflorescense. It is often confused with the wild carrot and many other members of the parsley family that resemble poison hemlock.  Wild carrot usually has one red flower in the center of the flower top and is usually about 3 feet tall, or less. Poison-hemlock starts growing in the spring time, producing flowers in late spring, while wild carrot produces flowers later in the summer.

Poison hemlock is a biennial. It grows from seeds. During the first year, it produces a rosette of fern-like leaves close to the ground. The second season it bolts to form the tall, erect, flowering stems which can be from 4 to 8 feet tall. The white flowers develop into green, ridged seed capsules which turn brown when the seeds mature. The leaves and flowers smell of a distinctive, "mousey" odor.

Poison hemlock must be removed. Do not allow this weed to go to seed. Wear gloves when handling it. Don't put it into the compost. Dead stalks can remain poisonous for two or three seasons. Don't incinerate it (don't inhale the smoke). The herbicide 2,4-D applied to the early stages of growth will kill it.

If you think you have poison hemlock growing in your garden, I would highly recommend contacting an arborist and let them or a professional tree service that has a highly qualified plant health care division remove the poison hemlock for you.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. has 4 certifiied arborists on staff to help you with plant issues such as this.  Trees "R" Us, Inc.'s plant health care division is equipped with the right equipment, experience and personnel to complete the removal of your problem plants safely and accurately.  Don't leave this type of job to anyone but a profession tree service, like Trees "R" Us, Inc. Contact us via the web at, or by phone at 847-913-9069, or email me directly at
Trees "R" Us, Inc. provides quality tree maintenance, expert tree care and comprehensive tree services to the north shore and suburbs of Chicago.  

Thanks for reading,

Monday, May 21, 2012

Japanese Hops - No Good!

Here's another plant to watch out for. The Japanese Hop plant. Japanese hops is a dioecious, fast-growing, herbaceous annual vine in the Cannabinaceae family. Its leaves are simple, opposite, heart- shaped and palmately divided, usually into 5 lobes. Flowers are greenish and bloom mid to late summer. Green hops produced by female plants contain oval, yellowish brown seeds. The seeds are believed to remain viable in the soil for three years and are dispersed by wind and water along rivers and streams. The stems are 8-35 feet in length and are covered with rough hairs that are very irritating to bare skin.

Japanese hops can grow in sandy, loamy, clay, acid, neutral and basic soils. While it requires moist soil, it can growin semi-shade to no shade environments. It threatens open woodlands, fields, prairies and riparian corridors. It is widespread throughout the eastern United States and ranges from Maine south to Georgia and west to Kansas and Nebraska. In Indiana, most populations are in southern Indiana riparian areas, though a few northern sites have been reported.

This species is considered to be invasive and has a high reproductive rate, rapid growth rate, long range dispersal, and broad photosynthetic range. Japanese hops can form dense, almost solid, stands that outcompete native vegetation and has the potential to displace native riverbank and flood plain vegetation. Vines begin growth in May. Growth is rapid and the vines quickly climb over adjacent vegetation. By late summer, vines can be up to 35 feet in length, which can blanket nearby vegetation.

Plants can be hand pulled and removed from the area before seeds ripen. When pulling the plants, attempt to remove as much of the rootstock as possible. Long sleeves, pants, and gloves are essential to avoid skin irritation. It is likely that resprouts could occur from both the rootstock and the vines. An herbicide alternative is glyphosate (i.e. Roundup or Rodeo). Foliar application of glyphosate (mixed according to label directions) prior to flowering should damage the plant enough so it will not be able to flower and set seed. The seed bank is typically exhausted within approximately three years. Always read and follow pesticide label directions.

If you think you have Japanese hops growing in your yard, there are several things you can do.  However, I would highly recommend contacting an arborist and let them or a professional tree service that has a highly qualified plant health care division remove the Japanese hops for you.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. has 4 certifiied arborists on staff to help you with plant issues such as this.  Trees "R" Us, Inc.'s plant health care division is equipped with the right equipment, experience and personnel to complete the removal of your problem plants safely and accurately.  Contact us via the web at, or by phone at 847-913-9069, or email me directly at
Trees "R" Us, Inc. provides quality tree maintenance, expert tree care and comprehensive tree services to the north shore and suburbs of Chicago.  

Invasive Species - 5 Leaf Akebia

The last invader on my series of Invasive Woodland Plants is the 5 Leaf Akebia.

The 5 leaf akebia, sometimes called the chocolate vine, is a woody vine comprising two species native to Asia but introduced in America for their ornamental foliage and fast growth.

Five-leaf akebia has five leaflets to each leaf arranged like the fingers on a hand; three-leaf akebia has three leaflets to a leaf. The purplish flowers occur in small clusters, and the oblong purple fruits are edible, though insipid. Both species are twining vines often used for shading and screening on arbors and fences and for ground covering on embankments.

Why is five leaf akebia bad?

Fiveleaf akebia is a vigorous vine that grows as a groundcover and climbs shrubs and trees by twining. Its dense growth crowds out native plants.

It is highly threatening to natural plant communities. All detected occurrences should be eradicated.

How to Get Rid of Your Infestation

Control options must be determined on a site-by-site basis. Manual, mechanical and chemical control methods are all effective for control of akebia. Employing a combination of methods often yields the best results and may reduce potential impacts to native plants, animals and people. The method you select depends on the extent and type of infestation, the amount of native vegetation on the site, and the time, labor and other resources available to you. For small or scattered infestations manual and mechanical methods may suffice. Systemic herbicides or a combination of manual, mechanical and chemical are probably more effective and practical for large infestations.

Whenever possible and especially for vines climbing up trees or buildings, a combination of cutting followed by application of concentrated systemic herbicide to rooted, living cut surfaces is likely to be the most effective approach. For large infestations of ivy spanning extensive areas of ground, a foliar herbicide may be the best choice to minimize soil disturbance that could lead to reinfestation.

For more information on how to properly deal with your infestation of five leaf akebia, contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. in the Chicagoland area.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. services the North Shore are of Chicago and the surrounding northwest suburbs.  For commercial strength herbicides to help control your infestation of five leaf akebia, contact Trees "R" Us, Inc.  at or 847-913-9069.  Trees "R" Us, Inc.'s Plant Health Care division has all the proper licensing and treatments for your problem plants in your yard.  Whether you are fighting an infestation of tree-devouring bugs, or you have unwanted plants, or just need a fertilization treatment for your native healthy plants, contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. for expert advice and superior care from a business with nearly 20 years experience.

In addition to these control methods, mulch is another consideration.
Mulching may be an effective choice for smaller ground-cover infestations and when herbicides are not appropriate. Cover the entire infestation with several inches of mulch. This may include wood chips, grass clippings, hay or similar degradable plant material. Shredded or chipped wood may be the best option since hay and grass may potentially carry weed seeds. Covering the area with cardboard may improve the effectiveness and longevity of this method. The mulch should stay in place for at least two growing seasons and may need to be augmented several times. Mulching can also be done following herbicide treatment. 
For superior mulch at the best prices in the Chicagoland area, contact Organic Solutions, Inc. at or at 847-366-8869.

Thanks for reading, 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Chinese Yam - A Big Invader

Among the most invasive woodland plants is the Chinese Yam, also called the cinnamon vine or air potato.

It was brought from China to North America in the 1800s for ornamental, food and medicinal uses. Having escaped cultivation by the mid 1980s, it is now found throughout the eastern and central United States, including a number of counties in southern Missouri. It continues to be sold as an ornamental plant, but its use should be strongly discouraged.

Chinese yam is an aggressive vine, forming small bulbils that resemble little potatoes in the axils of its leaves. New vines quickly sprout from these bulbils, which typically drop off the vine and can be easily carried to new locations by water or rodents or in topsoil moved for construction purposes. It becomes established in forests, along streambanks, drainages and roadsides, in fencerows and at old homesites. It can grow in full sun to full shade, but prefers partial shade. It is tolerant of most soil conditions, but is most aggressive in silty soils rich in nitrogen.

The green leaves have seven to nine parallel veins and are typically fiddle shaped or sometimes heart shaped with a couple of lobes toward the base of the leaf. There is usually a reddish coloration at the base of the leaf on new growth. Leaves are usually opposite, but can be alternate toward the tip of the plant.

The tiny white or greenish-yellow flowers smell of cinnamon, but are not known to produce seeds, probably because the plant produces male and female flowers on separate plants, and female plants have not been observed in the wild. Spread, therefore, is limited to vegetative growth. Even a small piece of a bulbil will sprout into a new vine, much the same as a small piece of a potato will create a new plant. The bulbils can overwinter and form new vines in spring.

Why is Chinese Yam Bad
The vines of the aggressive Chinese yam can overtake acres, smothering plants on the ground as well as shrubs and trees, blocking their access to light. Its heavy vines are capable of breaking off limbs of larger trees, similar to kudzu. It outcompetes and displaces native plants, reducing plant diversity, and is of little value for wildlife.

How to Control or Get Rid of Chinese Yam
Manual and mechanical control is difficult, due to the plants deep, tuberous roots. It should only be attempted in very small populations. All pieces of the tuber must carefully be removed or resprouting may occur. Follow-up monitoring is necessary because bulbils in the soil may germinate over several years.

Herbicides have been shown to be effective. Contact your local tree service or arborist before you apply any sort of chemical as you want to make sure you are killing the invasive plant and not a 'look-alike'.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. in the Chicagoland area, has been diagnosing and treating invasive species, such as the Chinese yam since the 90s. Some store bought herbicides may not be affective.  Only commercial strength herbicides may work on this invader.  Your local professional tree care company, like Trees "R" Us, Inc. will assess your infestation of Chinese Yam and provide you with the best plan of action.   The best time to apply is after the leaves have expanded, but before the bulbils ripen.

Native Look-alikes
Our native wild yams (Dioscorea quaternata and D. villosa) might easily be mistaken for Chinese yam, but pose no invasive risk. Our native yams do not have reddish coloration on new leaves, and do not produce bulbils in their leaf axils. Their fruits are a three-winged capsule, and their leaves are strongly heart-shaped.

For Additional Information contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. through our website at or at 847-913-9069.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. is a professional tree service company on Chicago's North Shore. We practice environmentally responsible work habits and will treat your trees and plants with the utmost care.

Thanks for reading,

The Oriental Bittersweet - Illinois Invasive Plant

On the "Illinois Most Wanted" list for invasive plants is the Oriental Bittersweet.

What is Oriental Bittersweet?
Oriental bittersweet is a deciduous woody perennial plant which grows as a climbing vine and a trailing shrub. Stems of older plants 4 inches in diameter have been reported. The leaves are alternate, glossy, nearly as wide as they are long (round), with finely toothed margins. There are separate female (fruiting) and male (non-fruiting) plants. Female plants produce clusters of small greenish flowers in axillary clusters (from most leaf axils), and each plant can produce large numbers of fruits and seeds. The fruits are three-valved, yellow, globular capsules that at maturity split open to reveal three red-orange, fleshy arils each containing one or two seeds. The abundance of showy fruits have made Oriental bittersweet extremely popular for use in floral arrangements.

IMPORTANT: Because Oriental bittersweet can be confused with our native American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) which is becoming less and less common, it is imperative that correct identification be made before any control is begun. Contact your local arborist or tree service.  A professional tree service like Trees "R" Us, Inc. will have highly qualified arborists on staff to quickly assess your plants and have the qualified staff to take care of them for you.  
American bittersweet produces flowers (and fruits) in single terminal panicles at the tips of the stems; flower panicles and fruit clusters are about as long as the leaves; the leaves are nearly twice as long as wide and are tapered at each end. 
Oriental bittersweet produces flowers in small axillary clusters that are shorter than the subtending leaves and the leaves are very rounded. 
Comparing the two, American bittersweet has fewer, larger clusters of fruits whereas Oriental bittersweet is a prolific fruiter with lots and lots of fruit clusters emerging at many points along the stem. Unfortunately, hybrids of the two occur which may make identification more difficult.  I highly recommend you contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. or your local tree care provider for assistance in identification of Oriental Bittersweet and its treatment or removal if you have it infesting your yard.

Oriental bittersweet is an ecological threat.  It is a vigorously growing vine that climbs over and smothers vegetation which may die from excessive shading or breakage. When bittersweet climbs high up on trees the increased weight can lead to uprooting and blow-over during high winds and heavy snowfalls. In addition, Oriental bittersweet is displacing our native American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) through competition and hybridization.

Oriental bittersweet currently occurs in a number of states from New York to North Carolina, and westward to Illinois. It has been reported to be invasive in natural areas in 21 states (CT, DE, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, TN, VA, VT, WI, and WV) and at least 14 national parks in the eastern U.S.

Oriental bittersweet infests forest edges, woodlands, fields, hedgerows, coastal areas and salt marsh edges, particularly those suffering some form of land disturbance. While often found in more open, sunny sites, its tolerance for shade allows oriental bittersweet to invade forested areas.

Oriental bittersweet reproduces prolifically by seed, which is readily dispersed to new areas by many species of birds including mockingbirds, blue jays and European starlings. The seeds germinate in late spring. It also expands vegetatively through root suckering.

Manual, mechanical and chemical control methods are all effective in removing and killing Oriental bittersweet. Employing a combination of methods often yields the best results and may reduce potential impacts to native plants, animals and people. The method you select depends on the extent and type of infestation, the amount of native vegetation on the site, and the time, labor and other resources available to you. Whenever possible and especially for vines climbing up trees or buildings, a combination of cutting followed by application of concentrated systemic herbicide to rooted, living cut surfaces is likely to be the most effective approach. For large infestations spanning extensive areas of ground, a foliar herbicide may be the best choice rather than manual or mechanical means which could result in soil disturbance.

No biological controls are currently available for this plant.

A basal bark application, cut stem application, foliar application, manual and mechanical applications
are all also possible.  Contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. or your local tree service for more information on these different types of applications.
Trees "R" Us, Inc. services the North Shore area of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.  With experience in the tree care and maintenance industry since the 1990s, we are highly qualified in all areas of tree and plant care, removal and treatment.  Our highly qualified staff and arborists work hard to make sure your job, what ever it may be, is done correctly, safely and with 100% satisfaction.
For all your tree and plant health care needs, contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. through our website at, or give us a call at 847-913-9069.  

Thanks for reading, 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Invasive Woodland Plants - Japanese Knotweed

In Illinois the invasive plants that invade woodlands are numerous.  (Woodlands are described as forests, timber and windbreaks.) Just some of the most prevalent invasive plants are the Japanese Knotweed, Oriental Bittersweet, Chinese Yam and the Five-Leaf Akebia.

In honor of invasive species month in Illinois, today I'm going to teach you about Japanese Knotweed.  This plant is sometimes used as an ornamental ground cover in landscapes.  It is a semi-woody perennial that grows up to 3 feet tall.  It has alternately arranged dark green, heart shaped leaves along a reddish stem with distinctly swollen nodes.  Once it become established in an area, it can quickly spread far and establish large colonies by its underground root system.

Why is Japanese Knotweed bad?  There are no known natural predators for Japanese Knotweed and as a result it outcompetes all our native species for light, water and nutrients.  And, its aggressive growth pattern can damage hard engineered structures, like concrete, tarmac, brick walls and foundations.

Your problem with Japanese Knotweed can be resolved in several ways; through chemicals, by excavation, biologically, through 'mesh tech', via on-site incineration or even composting.  To find out more about these methods contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. in the Chicagoland area and North Shore, or your local professional tree service.

Trees "R" Us, Inc. has a Plant Health Care division that deals with problems such as these daily.  Our highly experienced tree service staff and plant heath care technicians will take care of all your trees and plants, problem or not.  We strive to provide you with the utmost quality tree care at affordable prices and by courteous, professional and highly trained and qualified staff.  You can trust your trees and plants to Trees "R" Us, Inc. we have the right experience, the right equipment and we are the right choice for quality tree and plant care.  As an environmentally conscious tree service, we will use the 'greenest' methods to meet all your tree care needs.

You can contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. by going to our website,, giving us a call at 847-913-9069 or emailing me directly at

Stay tuned for more on Oriental Bittersweet, Chinese Yam and Five-Leaf Akebia.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Invasive Plants Harming Illinois Habitats

Another impact to our already stressed economy is control and management of invasive plants.  The invasion of natural habitats by non-invasive or exotic plants poses a serious threat to Illinois natural ecosystems, second only to habitat destruction in importance.  New invasive plants can harm our natural resources and biodiversity and directly impact the economies that rely upon these resources.  Be on the lookout for these new invaders to Illinois and report any suspected findings.

Early detection of invasive species is critical in preventing the destruction of habitat areas due to displacement of natural am/or native species in addition to preventing injury to humans and wildlife.

Email your sightings, questions or concerns to your local arborist.  They will know how to treat the infestation and who to report it to.  Infestations can be found in wetlands, woodlands, grasslands and argonomic areas.  If your concern is with a woodland area, Trees "R" Us, Inc. should be your choice for its control, treatment and/or removal.  We have highly qualified arborists and staff to address your problem areas with the utmost care.  Trees "R" Us, Inc has been providing quality tree care and tree maintenance to the North Shore and Chicago's northwest suburbs since the 1990s.  We have many satisfied customers in the north shore area.  You can be confident the job will get done right when you choose the right tree service, Trees "R" Us, Inc.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Must Read about Invasive Species

In honor of invasive species month, here are some interesting facts about the species that invade our forests, lawns, and lives every day.

Check out the environmental impacts of invasive species.

• Experts estimate that invasive plants already infest more than 100,000,000 acres of land in the United States.

• In the United States, about 3 million acres are lost to invasive plants each year (= twice the area of Delaware).

• Our natural habitats on public lands are being lost at the rate of 4600 acres a day to invasive species.

• Already, invasive non-native organisms have contributed to the decline of 42% of our federally listed threatened and endangered species.

• Of the 235 woody plants known to invade natural areas in the United States, 85% were introduced primarily for ornamental and landscape purposes, while another 14% were introduced for agricultural uses.

• Within nearly 200 of the approximately 250 National Parks protecting significant natural resources, non-native plants have been identified as serious threats to those resources. 

• Research results suggest that "the increasing dominance of glossy buckthorn in New England pine forest is likely to change the relative abundance of tree species in the forest canopy, and may delay the filling of canopy gaps."

And if that isn't enough to make you want to pull all the buckthorn in your yard or area forest, check out the economic impact these unwanted species have on our pocketbook.

• In Massachusetts alone, state agencies spent over half a million dollars in 2001 on the control of nonindigenous aquatic plants through cost share assistance and direct control efforts on state lands. This figure does not include extensive control efforts undertaken by municipalities and private landowners, lost revenue due to decreased recreational boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities, or documented decreases in property values due to infestations of neighboring lakes and ponds by aquatic macrophytes. Think of the size of Massachusetts and the dollars it cost to control some of the invasive plants.  Now think of the size of Texas.  Are you seeing dollars signs!?!

• Invading non-indigenous species in the United States cause major environmental damage, public health problems and cost the nation more than $122 billion per year; plants are responsible for $36.6 billion of this. 

• From 1906 to 1991, just 79 non-indigenous species caused documented losses of $97 billion in harmful effects.

• Purple loosestrife now occurs in 48 states and costs $45 million per year in control and forage losses. 

• In the United States, a total of $100 million is invested annually in aquatic weed control. 

Trees "R" Us, Inc. is an environmentally conscious company.  The above information is just staggering and we are here to help control the invasive species that are related to the tree industry.  Call Trees "R" Us, Inc. for your buckthorn removal, emerald ash borer control, black locust removal, tree of heaven removal, and all the other related bugs, pests, or invasive trees and plants that threaten the livelihood of our indigenous plants and trees.  Contact us at, via the phone at 847-913-9069, or through email at  Do your part, call your local tree service, like Trees "R" Us, Inc. to help control our invaders!

Trees "R" Us, Inc. provides environmentally conscious tree care to the north shore of chicago and its surrounding northwest suburbs.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

invasive species fast facts

It's Invasive species month in Illinois.  Here are some Invasive Species Facts from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:
  • Invasive species often invade and replace the native flora in a variety of ways and will sometimes out-compete the native species to the extent the native plants totally disappear from an area. Garlic mustard and the exotic buckthorns block needed sunlight, making it impossible for many of the needed native species to survive and reproduce. Such degraded habitats can quickly become a monoculture of only garlic mustard or buckthorn, meaning no food or shelter for native fish and game.

  • Chemical toxins inhibiting growth of all other plants nearby are produced by garlic mustard and tree of heaven; these toxins are released from their roots into the surrounding soil, thereby eliminating competition for space, water, nutrients, etc. from other plants. The eliminated native species, in some cases, are very important food plants for native game animals. Because of the extirpation of many of native plants, a number of wild areas that once supported healthy populations of deer, elk, and other wildlife are no longer prime habitat for the species in question.

  • Bush honeysuckles not only shade out most native plants, but they also form such thick stands of growth that hunters and anglers cannot walk through the area or see game from a blind or tree stand. Multiflora rose, with its strong thorns and tangled growth habit, forms thickets even deer and turkeys find inhospitable for protection. Such tangled growths of honeysuckle, multiflora rose and other similar invasive plants often destroy the attractiveness of what was once prime habitat for hunting, fishing, birding and mushrooming.
  • Chinese bittersweet and porcelain berry grow to the tops of the tallest trees in the forest, creating dense, smothering foliage – and the weight of the vines will eventually pull the trees down.

  • Many undesirable invasive species will compete more successfully than native flora for water, minerals, and other necessary nutrients, leading to very poor growth of the native plants. Replacement of the native flora with invasive species reduces the biodiversity of the area since invasion by only one species often results in the loss of several native species. This loss of biodiversity is of major concern to ecologists both locally and globally.

  • The fruit, seeds, stems and/or the leaves of some invasive plants are poisonous, or at least result in illness when eaten. Leafy spurge can cause blistering in the mouth and throat of livestock including horses and is toxic if enough is consumed.

  • Some invasive plants are of considerable danger if humans make direct contact with them. The juices of giant hogweed and wild parsnip cause severe blistering of the skin of humans soon after contact with the juice if exposed to direct sunlight. Scars from both of these plants will be noticeable for several years. Tree-of-heaven can cause intestinal and heart problems in people exposed to its sap.

  • Exotic plants are introduced into new areas in a myriad of ways. The seeds of some plants pass through the digestive systems of many animals, including some birds, without being damaged. Some seeds are widely scattered by wind before germinating in habitat suitable for their growth and reproduction. Many of the smaller seeds, such as garlic mustard, are so small they are carried in the fur of raccoons, dogs, deer, horses and other animals, only to drop off as the animals move into new habitat. Others, such as leafy spurge and teasel seeds, collect on roadside mowers only to fall off farther down the road accounting for the linear distribution of some exotic plants along our roads and railroad rights-of-way.

  • Oftentimes, people trim plants growing in their yards and gardens without thinking about proper disposal of the still-living cuttings which are then dumped into an area where they take root. Cuttings, stem pieces, and rhizome fragments can be blown about or carried downhill in runoff after a heavy rain before finding a new place to grow. Kudzu, honeysuckles, periwinkle, English ivy and Chinese Yam are just a few examples of plants that have invaded new areas in this manner.

  • Many of today’s exotic invasive species, such as burning bush, wintercreeper, periwinkle, Callery pear, and the ornamental figs, were grown for years before they exploded into the natural landscape and became problems. Landscapers used more than 60 species of imported ornamental figs in Florida for several decades without any problems until the pollinating wasp for the laurel fig was accidentally introduced about 20 years ago. The previously sterile laurel fig then very quickly became aggressively invasive as it produced viable seeds that were easily dispersed, giving it the necessary mechanism to invade the surrounding natural areas and become a real problem. In some cases, experts are uncertain why or how an exotic plant becomes an invasive problem.

  • For boaters and anglers, a reminder that invasive fish, snails, plants, disease, and viruses can be transmitted by dumping bait or even just the water from bait buckets, bilges, live wells, trailers, and equipment used on the water. Administrative rules in Illinois prohibit the removal of natural water from waterways of the state via bait bucket, livewell, baitwell, bilges or any other method. Regulations also prohibit removal of any watercraft, boat, boat trailer or other equipment from waters of the state without emptying and draining any bait bucket, livewell, baitwell, bilge any other compartment capable of holding natural waters. Regulations also prohibit using wild-trapped fishes as bait within the State of Illinois, other than in the waters where they were legally taken. To protect Illinois waters, inspect your boats and trailers for visible contamination of plants, mud, or water in bilges. By removing, cleaning, or draining the equipment, you help eliminate invasive species from establishing in Illinois waters.

  • An invasive species of significant concern in Illinois is Asian carp. Unfortunately all four species of Asian carp – bighead, silver, grass and black carp – have been found in Illinois waters, likely escaping aquaculture facilities of the southern U.S. Bighead and silver carp are the focus of state, local, and federal efforts to reduce the populations and to keep this invasion from expanding into other watersheds, such as the Great Lakes. Check the website at for updates of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee actions.
Trees "R" Us, Inc. is an environmentally conscious company.   Call Trees "R" Us, Inc. for control of the invasive species that threaten the livelihood of your indigenous plants and trees.  Contact us at, via the phone at 847-913-9069, or through email at  Do your part, call your local tree service, like Trees "R" Us, Inc. to help control our invaders!

Trees "R" Us, Inc. provides environmentally conscious tree care to the north shore of chicago and its surrounding northwest suburbs.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fourteen More Invasive Plant Species Are Illegal in Chicago

The City of Chicago added 14 land-based invasive plant species to its Invasive Species Regulations, which includes 26 aquatic invasive species. Species that appear on the regulated list are illegal to import, sell and possess in the City of Chicago. The list includes species that are not already prevalent in the region, but if established, have the potential to cause serious damage to our natural areas by out-competing native species for resources and altering the ecology. Prevention efforts such as this are especially critical given that many of the species on the list have a greater likelihood of becoming established due to climate change, as winters become milder and ecosystems migrate northward.

Over 1,000 local and regional nurseries, landscape contractors, garden centers, and non-profit organizations, were invited to submit feedback before its finalization. The City will continue to conduct education for businesses and the public with information about why these species are prohibited and recommended alternative non-invasive species.

Regulated Species List: This regulated list represents species that (1) have the potential to cause harm to regional natural areas and public lands and (2) are in trade and, therefore, can be regulated. While there are many more invasive species that could cause harm in the region, this list focuses on species that pose the most critical threat. This list includes all cultivars except those that have been proven by the scientific community to be functionally sterile.

Akebia quinata
Ampelopsis brevipendiculata
Anthriscus sylvestris
Celastrus orbiculatus
Humulus japonicus
Leymus arenarius
Ligustrum spp.
Miscanthus sacchariflorus
Paulownia tomentosa
Phellodendron amurense
Phellodendron japonica
Polygonum cuspidatum
Quercus acutissima
Ranunculus ficaria

Chocolate Vine
Elegans Porcelain Berry Vine
Wild Chervil
Oriental Bittersweet Japanese Hops
Lyme Grass
Privet Amur
Silver Grass
Princess Tree
Amur Corktree
Japanese Corktree
Japanese Knotweed
Sawtooth Oak
Lesser Celandine

Trees "R" Us, Inc. is an environmentally conscious company.  Call Trees "R" Us, Inc. for identification and removal of the species above and any other invasive tree or and plant that threaten the livelihood of your indigenous plants and trees.  Contact us at, via the phone at 847-913-9069, or through email at  Do your part, call your local tree service, like Trees "R" Us, Inc. to help control our invaders!

Trees "R" Us, Inc. provides environmentally conscious tree care to the north shore of chicago and its surrounding northwest suburbs.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Black Locust - Another Invasive Species to Watch Out For

It's Invasive Species Awareness Month and here's another invader to monitor.

The Black Locust

Black Locust was once native to the southern Appalachian region of the Eastern United States, but has now spread throughout the world, including all of Ohio. It is valuable as an aggressive, rapidly growing invader species that controls erosion in road cuts, abandoned fields, strip-mined areas, logged forests, and fireswept areas. Initially colonizing by seeds, it also sucks from the roots, forming pure stands and snuffing out competitive weeds and woody plants. Trees of sufficient size are valued for their logs, which make fine fenceposts, poles, or railroad ties due to the anti-rotting properties of the olive-green wood.

Black Locust can quickly grow to 50 feet tall by 25 feet wide, when found in the open. However, high winds coupled with several diseases and pests often limit its potential height. As a member of the Bean Family, it is related to Redbud, Honeylocust, Kentucky Coffeetree, and Wisteria, as well as other Locusts.

Why is the Black locust Bad?
Black locust is not recommended for planting in your yard.  The tree is a prolific sprouter, as well as a free seeder.  The tree is considered a thorny weed tree by many horticulturists and has escaped cultivation to invade pastures and prairies.  It is considered an invasive species.

This tree is also susceptible to locust borer.  The insect damage can lead to damaged fences, roofs, and automobiles and will lead to the tree's early death.

What to do?

I can’t guarantee that you’ll get rid of black locust trees once and for all because nature has made them one of the fastest “re-greeners” in the natural process of reforestation. Sprouts could be emerging from viable ripe seeds left in the ground or from live sections of roots with live buds that were not destroyed through the stump grinding process.

I'd let the sprouts emerge and grow into trees with trunks and leaves so you can use one of the commercially made “brush killer” or “stump killing” herbicides in the spring.

Then find a commercial tree service, like Trees "R" Us, Inc. on the North Shore of Chicago, that has the required pesticide applicator license in your state and can apply in the spring a potent, restricted pre-emergent weed killer formulated to kill locust seeds as they sprout.

I believe your best bet is to chemically treat a freshly cut stump in the spring. Absorption of the chemical onto the stump only moves within the plant downward to the roots and will not carry the risk of poisoning the soil or adjacent plants.

Commercially available “brush killers” also can be used as “over-the-plant sprays,” although this method carries the risk of injuring nearby plants.

Along with frequent lawn mowing, applying a multi-ingredient broadleaf lawn weed killer may also starve the locusts' photosynthesis factory. Scan the containers of residential-use tough lawn weed killers in garden departments to select the best one that could work without hurting the grass.

Pre-emergent plant killers work by killing the new sprout at the point of seed germination. This type of product affects only plants from seed, so it should be very safe for your existing lawn.

I’m recommending that you hire a knowledgeable tree service worker who has the necessary pesticide applicator’s license in your state, which gives them legal permission to purchase and apply potent restricted-use chemicals.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. on Chicago's North Shore has all the staff, pesticides and required licenses to get the job done right.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tree of Heaven, more like tree of ____!

In honor of Invasive Species Month, here 's another invader that's no good. It's called the Tree of Heaven, but it really should be called the tree of #*!^

What is Tree of Heaven?
The tree of heaven is a rapidly growing, typically small tree up to 80 ft. in height and 6 ft. in diameter. It has pinnately compound leaves that are 1-4 ft. in length with 10-41 leaflets. Flowering occurs in early summer, when large clusters of yellow flowers develop above the leaves. Fruit produced on female plants are tan to reddish, single winged and wind and water-dispersed. Tree of heaven resembles the sumacs and hickories, but is easily distinguished by the glandular, notched base on each leaflet and large leaf scars on the twigs.

It is extremely tolerant of poor soil conditions and can even grow in cement cracks. Trees are not shade tolerant, but thrive in disturbed forests or edges. Dense clonal thickets displace native species and can rapidly take over fields, meadows and harvested forests. Tree of heaven, native to Asia, was first introduced into North America in 1748 by a Pennsylvania gardener. It was widely planted in cities because of its ability to grow in poor conditions.

Why is it bad?

Tree of Heaven is bad for many reasons. The reasons I find most bothersome are the odor and mess associated with this tree. My neighbor had these trees and it stunk so much, I didn't want to go outside. The smell has been described as fetid, skunklike, similar to cat urine or spraying, rotting peanuts. I was just really, really bad.

Tree of Heaven also procude flowers. These flowers drop seeds, lots of seeds. 325,000 of them. They too smell awful, and they will blanket every surface -- plants, water, patio, tables, chairs.

Want some more evidence of their evilness? Ailanthus spreads like crazy. You see babies popping up all over, by seed and by suckers (a double whammy). Once you start to notice, you'll see them everywhere.

As if that's not enough, tree of heaven heaves sidewalks and the leaves and bark have a toxin that keeps other plants from growing around it.

Other negatives include weak wood that could fall down on your house, or children and the chemical substances produced by allolepathy in the tree. The allolpathy mechanism is called allelochemicals. When the allelochemicals are released into the environment, they are very toxic to some kinds of plants. The toxicity of the tree of heaven is the ability to inhibit neighboring plant's root growth and seed germination. That is why it is always found that the tree-of-heaven is an isolated tree community, which implies that no other plant can be found closed or around this tree community.

How to get rid of this heaven sent tree

You can get rid of this tree manually, mechanically, or chemically. We recommend contacting your local tree care specialist, like the certified arborists at Trees "R" Us, Inc. and let them decide the best course of action based on the number and sizes of the trees. Trees "R" Us, Inc. services the north shore of Chicago and the surrounding northwest suburbs. We have lots of experience treating Tree of Heaven infestations. You can trust your trees to Trees "R" Us, Inc.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Buckthorn Busters!

It's Invasive Species Awareness Month in Illinois.

Buckthorn is one of many invasive species. If you take a look around your local forest area, buckthorn is everywhere.

What is buckthorn:
Buckthorn is an invasive, non-native shrub or small tree that was introduced to North America during the late 1800’s. Buckthorn was planted as a popular hedge but has since escaped into virtually every corner of the state. Each buckthorn fruit produces 2-4 seeds that remain viable for up to six years! Birds eat these fruits and deposit the seeds everywhere. Because buckthorn tolerates shade, full-sun, drought and bad soil, it thrives just about anywhere.

Why is buckthorn bad:
Buckthorn is the bully of the forest. They are detrimental to the health and future of our woodlands, prairies, wetlands and parks because is takes over large areas destroying wildlife habitat and food sources and out- competes other important native plants that we need for a stabile, healthy ecosystem. Both Common and Glossy Buckthorn are restricted noxious weeds.

What can you do to get rid of buckthorn?
Getting rid of Buckthorn is both easy and difficult. It is easy because Buckthorn is easy to identify, and in its seedling to one-year-old plant stage, easy to pull up by the roots in moist soils. However, the root system of larger plants must be removed completely or it can re-sprout for many years. Buckthorn holds its green leaves late into the fall, making that an ideal time to identify and remove it. If you are not sure if you have buckthorn on your property, contact your local certified arborist.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. provides tree maintenance and care, and our 4 certified arborists can help you identify not only the buckthorn, but all the invasive species that may be on our property.  Trees "R" Us, Inc. is accustomed to removing invasive species, such as buckthorn and also offer a complete line of plant health care to prevent its return.

If you have a large infestation of Buckthorn on your property, consider removal a long term effort. It may involve a 5 year commitment on your part, or your contracted tree service, like Trees "R" Us, Inc. If you work diligently, each year the amount of Buckthorn will be reduced. The first two years are when you or your tree service will have the most work. If you have Buckthorn that measures 2.5" in diameter or less, you can rent or purchase a special tool called a weed wrench that will help you pull the plants out of the ground. It is best to use this tool when soils are moist. Or, you can always call your local tree service. Trees "R" Us, Inc. regularly removes buckthorn from properties and parks.  We have worked extensively on Chicago's north shore in removing buckthorn.  Our work on the north shore and the northwest suburbs of Chicago has led us to clear acres of land of its buckthorn allowing the oaks, maples and many other indiginous trees to survive and thrive.

The Morton Arboretum’s Natural Resources Department is hosting numerous workdays throughout May to help control invasive species throughout the Arboretum’s natural areas. Activities will take place in several locations, so it is required to sign up ahead of time to provide you with appropriate information about the event. Wednesday mornings, volunteers will be working ‘Buckthorn Busters’. Volunteers interested in participating can contact us at at least 24hrs prior to any workday.
The schedule is below.

Full schedule of workdays for the Morton Arboretum: Mondays - Wetlands - 8:30-11:30 am Wednesday - Buckthorne Busters - 8:30-11:30am or East Prairie - 5:30pm - sunset. Thursdays - East Prairie - 8:30-11:30am or Wetlands - 5:30pm-sunset. Fridays - Heritage Trail - 8:30-11:30am Saturdays : May 5th - Weekend Warriors - 8:30-11:30am, May 19th - Weekend workday8:30-11:30am, and May 26th - Prairie workday - 1-4pm.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, May 7, 2012

It's Invasive Species Awareness Month

Did you know that May is Invasive Species Awareness month?

The goal of May 2012 Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month (ISAM) is to provide resources and opportunities to help stop the spread of invasive species in Illlinois - each and every person can make a difference, including you!

It's May in Illinois and that means we are starting another Awareness Month.  Governor Quinn signed a proclamation, denoting May as Invasive Species Awareness Month.  There are already nearly 70 events scheduled across Illinois to raise awareness and educate the public on invasive species issues and more are being added everyday!.  Check out this calendar of events:

Here is a short preview of the events underway this first week:

  • Workdays at Morton Arboretum, Fermilab, Allerton, and Lake Forest
  • Awards Ceremony in Springfield for our 2011 ISAM honorees
  • Garden Club presentations in Carbondale
  • Garlic Mustard challenge underway across the state
Tomorrow (Tuesday) there's a great presentation at the Botanic Gardens in Glencoe. Here's more info about what's going on there

NIIPP Invasive Plant Workshop
Tue, May 8, 1:00pm – 8:30pm
Chicago Botanic Garden, Regenstein Center-Alsdorf Auditorium, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL
Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month
Directions to the Garden: In honor of Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month NIIPP has organized an Invasive Plants Workshop on Tuesday, May 8th! Some of the featured speakers include Chris Evans from the River to River CWMA and Leslie Lowry of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The agenda, workshop registration form, and exhibitor registration form can be found on our website at Please note that if you register by April 30th the registration fee is $15.00 (which includes coffee/tea and a boxed lunch). The registration fee for exhibitors is $75.00 and includes workshop registration for one company/organization representative; we have space for 15 exhibitors. Workshop Agenda 8:00 – 8:30 am Coffee and Tea 8:30 – 8:40 am Welcome and Introduction 8:40 – 9:45 am Updates on New Invaders/Plants at Our Borders § Update on New Invaders Watch Program Website and Access - Deb Maurer, Lake County FPD § Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stiltgrass): Natural History and Control - Chris Evans, River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area 9:45 – 10:00 am Break 10:00 – 10:40 am Ornamental Invasive Plants § Miscanthus spp. (Japanese and Chinese silvergrass) - Kay Havens, Chicago Botanic Garden § Euonymus spp. (Burning bush) - Brendon Panke, University of Wisconsin, Madison 10:45 am – noon Aquatic Issues § Hydrilla Management Plan - Cathy McGlynn, NIIPP Coordinator § NPDES Permits for Use of Herbicides in Aquatic Areas - Leslie Lowry, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency noon – 1:15 pm Lunch (included with workshop registration fee for all pre-registrants) 1:15 – 2:30 pm Best Management Practices § Asian Bittersweet - Rebecca Grill, Park District of Highland Park § Reed Canary Grass - Ryan Campbell, Fermilab Natural Areas § Phragmites - Brook Herman, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers § Tall Goldenrod - David Hodge, Turning Leaf Conservation § Wild Chervil - Ben Haberthur, Kane County FPD 2:30 – 2:45 pm Break 2:45 – 3:15 pm New Herbicides and Application Methods § Herbicide Update - Rick Shulte, Crop Production Services § Buckthorn Wand - Jim Steffen, Chicago Botanic Garden § Phragmites Wiper Tool - Cathy McGlynn, NIIPP Coordinator 3:15 – 3:30 pm Final Questions and Closing Remarks

Hope you get to learn some interesting facts this month about the invasive species that kill our precious trees and plants.

Thanks for reading,