Opportunity to Help with Ailanthus Control

The following message went out by email from Rod Walker of Blue Ridge PRISM. As a stakeholder, PEC wanted to help spread the word:

To landowners in Virginia’s Piedmont and Mountain Region,

The Blue Ridge PRISM [Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management] has recently been made aware of an exciting experiment on biocontrol methods for Ailanthus. The success of the experiment depends on landowner participation. Below is more information about the experiment. If you are a landowner interested in providing a site for their work, please contact Rachel Brooks, rkbrooks@vt.edu.

About the Experiment:

Rachel Brooks, Ph.D student and Interfaces for Global Change fellow at Virginia Tech is currently “designing a regional experiment looking at how effective the two Verticillium wilt fungi are in managing Ailanthus”. She is looking for landowners that are interested in participating in the experiment that have property with large, healthy, unmanaged populations of Ailanthus (an invasive commonly referred to as Tree-of-Heaven).

The ultimate goal of this project is to have a product ready for use by landowners in the future. These fungi are already in the wild in Virginia and seem to have minimal impact on other plants, but they move slowly through mechanisms not well understood. If these researchers can find a way to readily reproduce the fungi and use it to infect healthy Ailanthus trees, we may all have a much easier answer to this problem than what we are doing today. When these fungi kill an Ailanthus tree, they generally also kill the whole copse through root connections.

Please note: Clusters of stands are preferred and there is no guarantee that any stand will have a fungus applied to it.

Criteria for Ailanthus stands:

  • Stands where the Tree of Heaven makes up the majority of the overstory
  • Stands that are at least 1/4 acre in size (roughly 100ft x 100ft)
  • Stands without any symptoms of decline nearby. Typical symptoms include loss of foliage, numerous dead branches or dead trees, and vascular discoloration 
  • Stands that are relatively close together (in an effort to be as efficient as possible with driving times)
  • Stands both in the Virginia mountains and the piedmont as well as in PA and OH
  • Stands that are not along right-of-ways or other locations where dead trees may cause a hazard

Timing of the study:

This study would involve the assessment of the stands this fall, the application of one or more of the fungi in the spring, and then monthly monitoring of the sites throughout the growing season.

If you have stands of Ailanthus that meet the criteria listed and want to participate in the research, contact Rachel and see if she would like to visit your property.

Please feel free to pass this along to other folks who may be interested.

Best Regards,

Rod Walker
Blue Ridge PRISM – A Cooperative Weed Management Area for Virginia
3200 Middle Mountain Road
Crozet, Virginia 22932
434 823-2742

About the Blue Ridge PRISM:

The Blue Ridge PRISM’s mission is to reduce the impact of nonnative invasive species in our ten county region. In support of our mission, we provide resources and education for landowners. We see this Ailanthus biocontrol experiment as an excellent opportunity to assist in the development of biocontrols for nonnative invasive species and consistent with our desire to connect landowners with the latest opportunities and resources.