Nothing Royal about Invasive Trees

It took decades for over twenty Ailanthus altissima and Paulownia tomentosa trees to tower over Riverside Drive and Buttermilk Trail west of the 42nd Street entrance to the James River Park System. But it took just four days to take them down and prevent regrowth of these two invasive tree species threatening the health and habitat of the park. Last week’s project was a partnership of the JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force, JRPS administration and invasive plant management team, the Friends of James River Park, and Arbor VA.

4. Logs

You might know the trees by their more common names, Tree of Heaven and Princess Tree or Royal Paulownia, and both are found not just in the Park, but on private and other public property. The Invasive Plant Task Force initiated the tree removal, long an item on its “Wish List”, made possible by a charitable donation by CoStar earlier this year. JRPS superintendent Giles Garrison supported the project and worked out the logistics that insured the safe removal of the trees by contractor Arbor VA along the guardrail of Riverside Drive, which was closed during the work. Arbor VA’s efficient, staged approach to the removal meant that JRPS invasive plant coordinators Laura Greenleaf and Gera Williams were able to immediately treat the freshly cut stumps with a targeted application of herbicide product to suppress regrowth through suckering.

5. Logs leaving
Logs leaving

Removing these trees reduces the stream of invasive tree seeds flowing directly into the Park and frees up space and resources for establishment of native tree and other plant species. It also moves a designated invasive management site on the Buttermilk Trail closer to the goal of less than 5% invasive vegetation. Since 2015 task force member Anne Wright has managed the site, organizing weekly volunteer events with hundreds of volunteers contributing to the removal of invasive plants, primarily English ivy groundcover. (After an August hiatus, events will resume this fall, so stay tuned to the FoJRP and Hands On Greater Richmond calendars.)

For more information on these two species:
Princess Tree | National Invasive Species Information Center
Ailanthus Control Methods FT0054 (
Ailanthus is the primary host plant for the invasive Spotted Lanternfly, which also threatens some crop species and native species and was recently identified in Richmond: USDA APHIS | Spotted Lanternfly

2. Bucket truck
Bucket truck

You May Also Like

Wood River Run

Run For the Park!

Dominion, one of our sponsors for the Wood River Run, is back with another 5K, and we could get 100% of your registration fee!

Read More »
Park Cleanup

A Note on Our Fiscal Year

All of our work can be broken down into the 3 areas of our mission- Protect, Expand, and Enhance. Here are some of the ways we used the funds we were given to make a difference this year.

Read More »
Camera to Canvas

Camera to Canvas Returns!

We are excited to be planning Camera to Canvas 2024, and we hope to see many of you there. The event this year will take place on September 13th at Willow Oaks Country Club.

Read More »

Report an Issue Form

To report an emergency please call 911 immediately. Please use this form to report an issue in the Park such as maintenance or trail issues. Thank you.

Type of Issue(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.