Brisbane’s top 10 worst weedy and undesirable trees to have in a residential backyard – part 2

Following on from our article highlighting the top 10 worst weedy trees in Brisbane part 1, we finish off the list in the lead up to the #1 most undesirable and worst tree to have in your backyard in Brisbane. We pick things up from #5 so read on:

  1. African Tulip (Spathodea Companulata)

The African Tulip is a Class 3 noxious weedy tree species that can grow to be enormous.  The tree in the below photo is approx . only 65% fully grown.   My parents planted an African Tulip tree and it was my favourite tree to climb as a child growing up, so I do have a soft spot for them.  The reason the Tulip has made this list is because of it’s weedy characteristics, the sheer size they can grow to and the powerful and potentially destructive root system they can have.  If planted in a LARGE back yard and away from neighbouring properties, retaining walls, paths, building, then that’s fine.  Otherwise, please rethink planting one of these.     

  1. Pepper Tree (Schnius Terebinthifolius)

I would estimate that for every 10 poorly maintained (overgrown) yards in Brisbane there would be at least 1 Pepper Tree in at least 8 of these properties.  This Class 3 noxious weedy tree which is clearly a big fan of our sub tropical Brisbane climate grows to a fairly moderate size, maxing out at about 8 metres tall but it’s not uncommon for them to have trunks as wide as 900mm in diameter.  Aside from their weedy characteristics the main issue with Pepper Trees is that they’re very difficult to train to grow in any sort of aesthetically pleasing manner – think a Geisha Girl on steroids!  If they’re pruned by professionals annually, then it’s possible to tame this otherwise very messy looking tree, otherwise if left to their own devices they’ll grow to be a mass of ugly twisted branches.  Do yourself a favour and remove this tree as soon as it rears it’s ugly head.  

  1. Cocos Palm (Syragrus Romanzoffiana)

The Cocos Palm is a Class 3 noxious weedy tree species that will grow almost anywhere and under almost any conditions.   Growing up to 18m tall, Cocos Palms are one of the largest palm species common to the Brisbane are.   They’re not an unattractive tree but will need to be cleaned at least every 8-10 months which involves removing dead fronds as Cocos Palm fronds don’t self prune like other species, removing fruit / seed and removing fruit / seed pods.  With the average cost for a Cocos Palm clean on a large mature palm coming in at around $125 Inc GST PLUS travel and admin, it can certainly add up and become an expensive tree to maintain. 

Some other issues with Cocos Palms are that fallen fruit are shaped like a medium sized marble and are just as slippery.  I’ve heard many stories where home owners have tripped over on the fallen fruit.  The smell of the rotting fruit is very unpleasant and they also attract bats and where there’s bats there lots of bat… you know what!

Lastly possums love to nest up in large Cocos Palm crowns – trust me, I’ve been up close and personal with about 500 possums in Cocos Palms over the years.  Again, if they’re cleaned regularly this isn’t an issue.

Nurseris aren’t allowed to sell these anymore, but if you see a juvenile coming up in your yard, do yourself a favour and remove it ASAP!

  1. Tobacco Tree (Solanum Mauritianum)

If ever there was a tree with absolutely NO redeeming features – it has to be the disgusting Tobacco Tree.  While this class 3 declared noxious pest has well and truly infiltrated itself in throughout almost every suburb in Brisbane, the worrying thing is how common it is now to see Tobacco Trees bushland throughout Brisbane.  While they don’t grow to be overly big (the tree pictured above is approx. half the size it will eventually reach) they have the following traits; they’re fairly resistant to Glyphosate folia spraying (weed spraying), they have a hideous appearance, the leaves will irritate the skin if you rub up against them, the aroma from the leaves is disgustingly pungent and repulsive and their fruit is toxic.  If you see one in your back yard, dig it out, stomp it out, napalm it – do what ever you need to kill this hideous tree ASAP!

  1. Chinese Elm (Celtis Sinensis)

Coming in at number 1 for Brisbane’s Worst Weedy Tree is the much hated Chinese Elm.  I should start by stating that these class 3 declared weedy trees CAN grow into big, beautiful trees – the key word here though is ‘big’.  The Chinese Elm can grow to be approx. 18m’s tall with canopy diameters of over 30m’s and weights of 25 tonne +!! 

In the 10 years that North Brisbane Trees have been operating, I would estimate that we’ve remove approx. 1500 mature Chinese Elms and perhaps 25 000 juvenile Chinese Elms.  They’re clearly good for business if you work in the Tree Service field, but if you’re a home owner or you live next door to a property with a Chinese Elm, then not so much! 

So what makes this sometimes attractive large tree problematic? 

  1. The sheer size they grow to.  It’s not uncommon for Chinese Elms to be growing over and into 4 or 5 adjoining properties.
  2. The size and power of the root systems.  Chinese Elms are one of the most notorious tree Brisbane has for lifting concrete driveway, house  slabs, edging etc.
  3. The size and power of their trunks.  A Chinese Elm growing up against a brick wall or timber retaining wall will not be the least bit fazed and will continue to push and push as it grows until eventually the wall breaks.
  4. The damage even juvenile trees will do to chain link fencing.  There’s a lot of different tree species that have the propensity to envelope a chain link fence as the grow into mature trees, but no other species will grow INTO a chain link fence and at such as young age as the Chinese Elm.  We see it time and again where within a year or 2 that tiny Elm sapling has grown into a 5 metre high tree and has grown into your chainlink fence and unfortunately there’s no easy way of removing it.  It’s usually just a matter of poisoning the stump and waiting for a decade or so for it to eventually rot and so it can be freed from the chainlink. Who has time to wait for that?!
  5. The leaves.  The Chinese Elm is obviously not the only deciduous tree growing in Brisbane, but I can say without any doubt that no other tree irritates home owners and tenants quite like a Chinese Elm when losing it’s leaves.  This is mostly due to the sheer quantity of leaves it will drop and also due to the size and shape of the leaves which has this ability to float in to wind into neighbouring properties 40 metres away from the tree.

It’s for the above FIVE reasons that the Chinese Elm sits atop the mantle as BRISBANE’S WORST WEEDY TREE.

If you have tree problems, call our office on (07) 3289 3610 and arrange for me to either provide advice via photos or for larger, more involved jobs, I can call in for a free quote.  Check out our tree services which includes tree removal, tree lopping and stump grinding.

Trust North Brisbane Trees only – we’re a team, not a one man show and we’re the only affordable, tree experts Brisbane residents deserve!