Punk trees, or paperbark tea trees, are native to the continent of Australia and are very attractive to bees, birds, and bats. These trees are quite adaptable and can grow in upland areas, as well as aquatically, making them very prevalent in the state of Florida since their introduction over 50 years ago.
However, these are considered an invasive species in the Sunshine State. Researchers are attempting to find a way to control the species, because it grows rapidly due to its ability to produce many seeds, which grow aggressively into an impenetrable monoculture.
How to Take Down a Punk Tree
Cutting down a punk tree isn't as simple as cutting the bottom of the trunk because it will rejuvenate over time and regrow. Even paperbark tea trees which are cut down and the protruding trunks burned have been known to regrow. This is why the species is on the Florida "Do Not Plant a Pest" list.
Also known as white bottlebrush tree or melaleuca, punk tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia) is an evergreen member of the myrtle (Myrtaceae) family. The tree was introduced to Florida from Australia and has now become a serious ecological threat to the Everglades. It should not be planted as a landscape tree due to its invasive tendencies. -- San Francisco Chronicle
To take down a punk tree, you must do so when it's not flowering. People that have allergies should avoid contact altogether because this species is particularly caustic, causing respiratory irritation, nausea, and headache.
Cutting down a punk tree will require time because it must be killed deep into the root system. Follow these steps to take down and effectively kill a paperbark tea tree:
- Gather your tools and supplies. You'll need protective clothing, including jeans, long sleeve shirt, heavy leather gloves, dust mask, and eye and hearing protection. In addition, you'll need a chainsaw and systemic herbicide.
- Cut the punk tree down. Clear the area around the tree and plan which direction to fell it to avoid property damage. Cut into the base close to the ground using a chainsaw. Once the tree falls, you'll need to kill it. Cut up the tree into smaller sections to make it manageable to haul away.
- Apply a liberal dose of systemic herbicide. You can find this at your local nursery or home improvement store. Be sure to check the label to purchase the right type of systemic herbicide. Apply a healthy amount of herbicide to the cut trunk and allow it to work as long as the manufacturer recommends.
- Dig out the stump. You'll need a set of helping hands to help you dig out the root ball in the ground attached to the dead trunk.
Once you have the entire tree cut up, you ought to remove it from your property immediately. Don't leave it because the seeds will fall off and begin to reproduce.
Punk Tree Disposal
You can rent a truck and haul it to the nearest disposal facility, but this will be a costly option and will require a lot of contact with the caustic paperbark. Instead, call your local same day junk removal service to pick it up and haul it away. Find your location in the search bar below or check out our locations page to quickly get help with your home yard improvements.