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The Salsa Squad weeds out local invasive plants

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China berry tree
Texas Tech University
China berry tree is a toxic invasive species common in the San Antonio area

A variety of tree species make up the landscape of Texas. From ponderosa pines in West Texas to Spanish oaks in Central Texas to dogwoods in East Texas -- trees play a vital role in the ecosystem and provide countless benefits.

But, what about species that cause negative impacts?

These are invasive species.

Some trees in Texas, like the Chinaberry tree or the Chinese tallow, don’t belong here because they are causing damage to the balanced ecosystem.

Chinese tallow is extremely invasive to several regions of Texas. It’s invasive because it is a prolific seed producer and adapts well to many conditions, easily outcompeting native vegetation. The species has also negatively impacted wildlife, including the displacement of the Attwater’s prairie chicken.

Every part of the Chinaberry tree is toxic and poisonous to wildlife. It's also a water hog and prevents nearby native trees from flourishing.

Invasive species should be avoided when planting and should be removed from the environment when possible.

Native species have evolved and occur naturally in a region, ecosystem or habitat.

They provide food and shelter for local wildlife, typically require less water once established and often have a better chance of survival because they are well-adapted to their region.

But who do you call when you spot a problem with an invasive species? The Salsa Squad. That is the name for the San Antonio chapter of the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council.

George Ozuna is co-leader of the San Antonio chapter of the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council, also known as the “Salsa Squad.”

Patrick McGuire is a team leader of the San Antonio chapter of the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255 or email thesource@tpr.org.

This interview will be recorded on September 21, 2023.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi