Written by Barbara Breshock, West Virginia WOW
Yikes, it’s already the middle of September and I am behind. If you have tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) in need of control on your property, now is the time you can be most effective in that task. The method described here is effective on other woody stemmed plants too. The control method I am referring to is called “hack and squirt”. It is accomplished with a small hatchet or camp axe and an inexpensive squirt bottle (one that will spray in a stream). The herbicide that is very effective in this application to control tree-of-heaven, is 40% concentrate glyphosate – available in big box store garden centers and other retailers who carry herbicides. (Always follow the label! - Especially regarding the personal protective equipment.) I have had very good success using this herbicide, undiluted via the hack & squirt method. Using the hatchet, cut at an angle downward into the wood enough to make a cup that will catch and hold the liquid sprayed. Before removing the hatchet from the incision, twist it slightly to open the incision and squirt once – don’t overfill the incision. Do this around the tree stem, working at a comfortable height, one incision per inch of diameter (the distance through the tree). If the incision is defective, won’t hold the herbicide, make an additional incision next to that one. The herbicide will be absorbed by the tree cambium, the growing tissue right under the bark, so the incision doesn’t have to be deep. In September the tree is moving nutrients into the roots and will take the herbicide with it. If you can’t get to all the trees you have to control, prioritize by treating the female trees first. Tree-of-heaven is a species that has separate male and female trees. The female tree will be the one with all the seeds. The seed cluster can be quite large, made up of many seeds surrounded by a twisted wing. They turn light brown as they mature and dry out this time of year.