While the tree-of-heaven may be surrounded by a plethora of negative attention, its resilience and refusal to go down without a fight is worth applauding. The tree-of-heaven has an amazing capability of survival. Unlike most trees you see around San Diego, if you mess with this tree, it fights back. No, it doesn’t slap you with its branches, but if you cut it or injure it…it knows! And in a survival response, it shoots out dozens of lateral roots underground to help “pass down the family genes.”
If you noticed that you have one of these “bad boys” creeping into your property, what do you do? Have no fear. There are methods to controlling them…which is just a nicer way of saying…annihilating them. Do not attempt to remove it yourself. The only exception would be if it is a brand new sprout that is the first of its kind in the area. If other tree-of-heavens are close by, pulling out a baby sprout would be pointless, because underneath is already an intricate root system that will simply replace what you took out.
The problem with attempting to remove a tree-of-heaven like a “normal” tree lies in the roots. You can take out the mother tree along with the stump, but in a few months, you’ll just see her little saplings lurking through the ground. Pull them out, and then a few months later, what do you know? More mini clones popping out from the ground! For the property owner, it’s a frustrating ordeal.
In order to successfully remove a tree-of-heaven, herbicide must be used to first kill the tree. However, this should be performed by a professional tree service company since a strong herbicide has to be used in order to effectively kill the tree. If other plant species are present, then extra precaution must be taken in order to avoid poisoning neighboring plants. Once the tree has deceased, the removal process can continue as normal.