J.M. Garg - Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris) eating Bakain (Melia Azadirachta) berries at Roorkee, Uttarakhand W IMG 9016 

What's it like at a Loving Garland Green meeting?

The content of our meetings vary but we try to have a member volunteer presentation at each meeting.  The topic can be any topic of their selection, but most often these topics are related to plants and gardens. The rest of our meeting is devoted to discussing our current projects. 

From April 6, 2015 Meeting:

1.  China Berry [Melia azedarach] Presentation.

We had a great meeting last night.  Cheryl Haynes, presented her research on Chinaberry trees which was fascinating and very informative, Although Chinaberry trees are on the Texas invasive species list, this tree may have at least one good point.  As Cheryl pointed out, the berries contain neurotoxins (substances poisonous to nerve tissue). She experimented by putting some berries on a fire ant mound and reported good results.  This sounds promising to me as botanical insecticides have more advantages than synthetic ones.  The advantages of botanical insecticides mainly are due to their quick degradation and lack of persistence and bioaccumulation in the ecosystem which have been key problems in chemical pesticide use. Cheryl brought some china berries to the meeting and I'll be testing them this morning on an ant hill in my yard. Cheryl reported that some people say that chinaberries can also be used as soap berries--thus I'll try to wash a load with them this morning and see what happens--although I'll be sure to put the clothes through a second rinse cycle. If I walk a little crooked in the next few days, I'll chalk it up to the Chinaberry meliatoxins.

Information from the Texas Invasives Database and Texas AgriLife

Chinaberry outcompetes native vegetation due to its high relative resistance to pathogens and insects.  Its leaf litter raises soil pH thus altering soil conditions for native plants and seed germination. Chinaberry tree is very fast growing and reaches a hight of 18 to 24 feet in four or five years.  It may reach 50 to 60 feet.  It reproduces onsite from root sprouts and over longer distances via bird dispersed abundant seeds.

Currently the most effective chemical controls reported are cut stump and basal bark application of triclopyr herbicides. Cut trees left untreated will grow back with several branches emanating from the stump.  The entire root system must be removed.

Meliatoxins A1, A2 and A3 are responsible for the toxicity of these plants.  Their berries are toxic to plant and animals--including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, poultry and humans--all with documented cases of having been poisoned by china berries.  Pigs and dogs are poisoned most frequently, usually by ingesting fallen fruits.  They show clinical signs within 2 to 4 hours of consumption.  

There is another tree similar to the Chinaberry tree, the Soapberry Tree.  Here is the link to a video describing the difference:

Soapberry and Chinaberry Trees

Note from Liz:  I can't believe they still sell this tree in nurseries in parts of the USA. 

2. Loving Garland Green received a generous donation of $1,500 from one of our new members last night.  

3. Signs were made and commitment sheets signed for the Seedling Sale April 11, 9am to 2 PM. 

4. We decided to build the spiral herb garden as the plant sale is going on.  Saturday April 11 - 9AM to 2PM.   We watched a video showing how to construct the Herb Spiral Garden.

5. We decided to invite members and the public to the garden at 3PM on Sunday for about half an hour to celebrate and remember our journey this past year.  April 12 marks the anniversary of the installation of our first bed down at the Garland Community Garden.   

6.  We will be meeting Friday at 6:00 at my house to load Charlie and Margie's trucks for the sale.

Please support urban agriculture, Loving Garland Green and the Garland Community Garden.  

Visit the garden and watch the build of a Spiral Herb Garden in progress.  We would love to see you there.






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