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Looking For a Purple Flowering Tree?
Keep Your Eyes Open for These Four Beauties
I have a tree called tamarix, I think. My tree grew from
nowhere on my property. A very beautiful thing. It has purple fine
flowering in spring. I wish to buy the tree locally. If not
locally, then mail order will suffice.
We wonder whether you have a tamarix (Tamarix
ramosissima) or another small, 10 to 20-foot tree that sports
tiny, purple flowers. Prime candidates are the purple locusts
(Robinia sterilis, R. pseudoacacia 'Rosea', or
R. neomexicana) and redbud (Cercis
All of these trees bloom in shades of purple but the tamarix
doesn't bloom in spring with the others. A tamarix growing in warm
southern States may bloom as early as May, but when it's grown in
Michigan it blooms in late June, in July or can be delayed into
August by cutting it back hard in the spring.
Look at the bark and the leaves to see if you have one of the
locusts or a redbud, rather than a tamarix. Locusts and redbud have
dark gray to black bark. Tamarix bark is light gray. Locusts have
small, oval leaflets arranged ten or eleven together like a fern.
Redbud has large leaves shaped like plump hearts. Tamarix has tiny
leaves almost like a juniper's.
Of all of these, the most likely to spring up from seed here is
Redbud is sold at most local garden centers, and tamarix may be
available there as well. Arrowhead Alpines in Fowlerville is one of
the nurseries that offers redbud, tamarix and Robinia via
on-site or mail order sales. To find them or order a catalog go to
1310 N. Gregory Road, P.O. Box 857, Fowlerville, 48836,
Dear Janet and Steven,
A tree is ruining my life. The trunk is in the
neighbor's yard but its messy top is entirely in mine. I've heard
that power company people sometimes kill trees by pounding a copper
nail into the trunk. Will this really work?
Anonymous, no city
Are you for real? Have you tried the sane route of discussing
this with the neighbor? You could offer to split the cost of
removal and share in the purchase price of a more desirable,
About your perspective on arborists who trim trees in utility
easements -- it's not only an insult to some honest, hard-working
people but irrational. Those crews have no need to be sneaky about
tree removal. The law is clearly on their side -- if the tree
threatens power transmission lines it can be cut down or out.
As for copper nails being able to kill trees, dream on. If
that's all it took to kill an unwanted tree, copper nails would not
be the rare find they are but would be available at every hardware
and garden center.
Patrol fence lines in early spring to get rid of weed trees that
sprout there under cover of tall grass or property-edge shrubbery.
They grow so quickly they can become almost inextricably woven into
the fence in a year or two. Now is the time that you should be able
to identify box elder, Siberian elm, mulberry, ash and tree of
heaven as the interlopers they are because they are leafing out
earlier, later or a different color than shrubs that belong
Dig or pull each weed tree if you can. If you can't, cut the
trunk off at ground level and paint the exposed surface of the
stump immediately with concentrated Brush-B-Gone, a brush killer.
Use a long-handled artist's paintbrush that you can discard after
use to dip directly into the herbicide bottle. Wear
chemical-resistant plastic gloves to apply the brush killer and be
careful not to splash it on the soil or desirable plants
The oldest and toughest weed trees may have to be re-cut and
re-painted additional times but many will die from just one
Poison ivy can be beat, too
Poison ivy can be killed by cutting it and painting its
stump with brush killer, too. Be careful to avoid contact between
any part of the vine and your bare skin, and don't touch your skin
with anything that touched the vine even if it's leafless or been
dead for a long time. That skin-irritating oil remains in poison
ivy wood and roots for years.
Green thumbs up
to accidental success in the garden. Horticulturists at a
botanical garden recently told us how they were shocked one spring
to find evergreen artemisia cut to the ground though it was
supposed to be trimmed only lightly. When the plant grew back
lusher and fuller than ever, they didn't just sigh in relief. They
took the cue and began experimenting, cutting lavender, sage and
other plants back further, with beautiful results.
Green thumbs down
to fanatics who want all non-native plants banned from
landscapes. Even if we could define where each plant species
"belongs," we doubt we can reset the stage to segregate Asian,
African, European and American plants in their original regions. We
plant many natives for their beauty, utility and environmental
importance but if you outlaw our other responsibly-planted species
you'll find us manacled to our butterfly bush!
First published 4/28/01
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