Tree recovery. Our summer season with intensive heat is hard in all plants and even trees suffer the consequences of the weather. Even adapted trees can engage into protective mechanisms of heat avoidance by reducing foliage, dropping leaves in high numbers. If your tree experience foliage droppings in unusual amounts, it might be this response mechanism in action.
Because the recent years of drought, several tree populations around our county have suffered tremendous damages loosing significant numbers. Our native oak populations, and red oaks in particular, have seen great losses in numbers due to drier than normal years. In most cases, there is little that can be done to help those losses, and that can cause frustration in landowners that like trees. Finding a replacement tree can be a challenge. Red oaks forest have the problem of becoming highly susceptible to oak wilt (not reported in Hopkins County yet, but reported two counties away) and other oaks develop very slowly.
Two trees become a more suitable option to replace oaks for landscapes, both originated from China. The Chinese pistachio tree is by many considered a great landscape tree because it deserved attributes (drought resistance, foliage changing and flowering). Another tree, the royal empress tree (Pauwlonia tormentosa) has got some attention by the industry because their fast growth rates. According to the university of Florida- extension, royal empress trees are deciduous trees up to 60 feet (18 m) in height and 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter with large heart-shaped leaves, fuzzy hairy on both sides, showy pale-violet flowers in early spring before leaves, and persistent pecan-shaped capsules in terminal clusters in summer to winter. Abundant flower buds present on erect stalks over winter. The empress tree is an aggressive ornamental tree that grows rapidly in disturbed natural areas, including forests, streambanks, and steep rocky slopes. Princess tree can reproduce from seed or from root sprouts; the latter can grow more than 15 feet in a single season. The root branches are shallow and horizontal without a strong taproot. Seed-forming pollen is fully developed before the onset of winter and the insect-pollinated flowers open in spring.
A single tree is capable of producing an estimated twenty million seeds that are easily transported long distances by wind and water and may germinate shortly after reaching suitable soil. Seedlings grow quickly and flower in 8-10 years. Mature trees are often structurally unsound and rarely live more than 70 years. Imported to Europe by the Dutch East India Company in the 1830s and brought to North America soon after. Historical records describe its medicinal, ornamental and timber uses as early as the 3rd century B.C. Its ability to sprout prolifically from adventitious buds on stems and roots allows it to survive fire, cutting and even bulldozing in construction areas. It is prized for carving. Common around old homes, on roadsides, riparian areas, and forest margins in infested areas. Infrequently planted in plantations. Spreads by wind- and water- dispersed seeds. Invades after fire, harvesting, and other disturbances. Forms colonies from root sprouts. The empress tree, very similar to the Catalpa tree can be a good alternative for landscaping when other trees have failed to blossom due to their low soil requirements.
For more information on this or any other agricultural topic please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-34443 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mario Villarino DVM, Ph.D.
Hopkins County Extension Agent for Ag and NR
1200B Houston Street
Sulphur Springs, Texas 75482