The Insidious Tallow Tree
What makes the tallow tree such a successfull invader?
Ben Powell, our state apiculturist and pollinator specialist spoke recently about the dreadfully invasive Triadica sebifera, the tallow or popcorn tree. He told me invasive plants often have several factors in common. They often produce massive numbers of seeds, one tallow tree can produce a hundred thousand seeds. The seeds tend to persist in the seed bank, waiting for disturbance. They have few pests. And these species are often extrememely adapatable to a wide range of environmental conditions. The tallow tree can grow in saline marshes, clay or dry sands and tolerate full sun or shade. In South Carolina, we find extensive monoculture stands of these trees in the lower portion of our state and scattered trees throughout the midlands as well. But the worst infestations occur in what Powell described as the Mississippi valley region, with huge increases often following hurricanes.