Grab a buddy, spill your secrets! Pink crew grew a lot closer this past week during invasive species removal at Gordy Marsh. An annual ritual of our project partners at Galveston Bay Foundation is to venture out onto easement-protected ranch land in the beating sun and cut down any shade provided by the Chinese Tallow trees. This ostensibly absurd activity, is not crazy at all. In fact, it is a necessity. The tallow tree is considered an invasive species in Texas.
The tree is native to eastern Asia, where it is admired for its colorful fall leaves (see picture). In Texas, however, the beautiful characteristics of the tree are a mere reminder to ranchers and conservationists of the harm it causes to the biodiversity of the Texan ecosystem. Not only do herbivores and insects avoid snacking on the leaves of this tree leaving standing with no threatening predators, but the tree can also quickly invade land due to is high reproductive ability – it is estimated that one tree can produce more than 100,000 seeds per year.
The only known effective method of removing this tree is by applying herbicide. Though it is, of course, too optimistic to assume that the tree can be fully eradicated from land it has already invaded, its growth and reproductivity can be stunted by yearly “hack-and-squirt” herbicide maintenance. This year, members on pink crew were the chosen ones to slave in the heat and humidity cutting down the (seemingly) millions of Chinese tallow trees on the Gordy Marsh property.
Whether drenched in sweat or caught in the rain, the crew had a hard time staying dry during the monotonous “hack-and-squirt”. Don’t be fooled though! There was never a shortage in morale and our crew had plenty of opportunity to get to know each other with one-on-one conversations. Moreover, we have proven to ourselves (and hopefully to the staff at the Galveston Bay Foundation) that we will tackle tasks and projects with enthusiasm and diligence.
(research information from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triadica_sebifera#Invasive_species)
Judith Menzl – Disaster Response Team