Clearing alien poplar trees

I am not sure if I can post this in Nature Talk but will appreciate help.
We are a nature reserve in the Southern Cape and we are
busy cutting down poplar trees next to our river courses. I want to know what
poison we can use on the stems to kill these trees. The poison shouldn’t have any
negative effects on our other plant or animal species. The owner of the reserve is
against using roundup. We do use Garlon 4 to prevent regrowth of rooikrans (Acacia cyclops).


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Then I can give you a few pointers.
There are a few herbicides that you could use besides Roundup that are not glyphosate based.


Welcome to the Forum. I don’t have any answers, but do know that controlling ‘pests’ is difficult.

It may be possible to kill the stump just using salt (sodium chloride) by drilling holes in the stumps, filling them with salt, and covering the holes to prevent the salt from washing out. I know that this method works on woody invasive plants like english ivy, but I’ve never seen it done with trees. If you do use salt, I would suggest that you remove the salt once the stump is dry and any suckers are dead to prevent salinification of the soil which could prevent plant growth and harm the soil biology, but it’s definitely much less harmful than glyphosate.

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You could also consider growing mushrooms in the stumps. All it takes is drilling some holes and hammering in so-called “plug spawn”, which is dowels that have been colonized by the mushroom mycelium. Not only does this avoid polluting, but it speeds up the return of nutrients to the environment.

The trick is, you’ll want a mushroom species which will thrive in the poplar (I assume this is Populus alba?), and in the climate of the Southern Cape.

One idea is, to look at dying or damaged P. alba trees in the area and identify mushrooms found on them. A local mycologist could either clone those mushrooms or order a culture of that species to produce the plug spawn. This way you avoid introducing a new species to the area but also maximize decay by using what nature has already selected for.

Alternatively, you could try to choose an edible mushroom. It seems that Oyster (Pleurotus) mushrooms grow wild in South Africa. In the Northeast USA we have Pleurotus populinus which specifically grows on poplars, but I don’t know how it would perform in your specific ecology.

EDIT: There’s a supplier in Kansas, USA that sells P. populinus plug spawn: Though I imagine you’d want to find a local supplier.


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