Tuesday, May 23, 2006
The Pensacola News Journal is reporting that Northern Florida is in the middle of a popcorn tree explosion. Seedlings of the invasive popcorn tree, also known as the Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum), have been, well, popping up all over the Gulf Coast. The article speculates that the habitat disturbance caused by last season's hurricanes may be partly to blame for the recent population growth, due to the inability of the tallow trees to withstand the winds. Broken branches would have become a part of many debris piles, spreading seeds in the process. A little Google digging indicates the jury is still out regarding the reasons behind the spread of this species. Regardless, the popcorn tree seedlings have arrived, and it remains to be seen whether they can gain a stronger foothold in the already highly invaded Florida ecosystems.
I can't imagine that the tallow tree won't become established there. In SE Louisiana, they're everywhere.
I go down to my woods several times a year and pull up tallow tree seedlings by the hundreds. And I've seen abandoned pasture become overtaken with the things and turn into tallow tree forests :-(.
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