Posted: Jan 7, 2013 9:55 PM by Morgan Frances - MFrances@kristv.com
Updated: Jan 7, 2013 11:32 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI -The Tule Hike and Bike Trail in Rockport opened just over a month ago. With beautiful trees, plenty of wildlife and a newly paved walkway, a lot of people are taking advantage of the mile-long trail. There's something growing along the trail, however, that is posing a threat to all the wildlife; it's called the Brazilian Pepper-tree.
"It takes over an area," said Agricultural Extension Agent, Ginger Easton Smith. "It grows into a really dense thicket and makes really dense shade. Things have a hard time growing underneath it."
Smith says people love using the berries around Christmas time as decoration and sometimes plant the trees in their yard but it grows so fast it smothers surrounding vegetation quickly killing it. Berries that fall into streams quickly travel to other locations where even more trees pop up and birds that love to eat the berries end up depositing the seeds that will sprout into even more trees.
Kathy Warren, a walker at the trail said, "You can't get rid of them. Once you started them it's like they keep growing, and growing, and growing."
Aside from posing a threat to other plants and trees, the Brazilian Pepper-tree can also can destroy a farmer's crop. Additionally, Smith says the weed is a relative of poison ivy and can give people a pretty decent rash if they're allergic.
Most people when they see this weed growing in their back yard would think just to cut it down but experts say there's just one main way to get rid of it.
"You probably need to use a herbicide like glyphosate," Smith said. "You can cut it down and then paint the herbicide on right away on the cut surface."
Aside from using something like Roundup to kill the invasive tree, Smith says most importantly it's illegal to bring them into the state, sell them in the state or disperse them, at all, in the state of Texas.
Smith also said the Brazilian Pepper-tree has overrun more than 700,000 acres of land in Florida and fears a similar result in South Texas could impact wildlife habitat.
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