Curly or corkscrew willows (Salix matsudana) are deciduous trees that are often planted for their unusual, twisted stems and leaves. They can grow to a height of 70 feet in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 10. Unfortunately, these trees often invade sewage lines, destroy building foundations with their roots and have become invasive in some areas. Simply cutting them down will not necessarily kill them. They often re-sprout from the stump and grow sucker shoots from their roots that will grow into trees. An additional step must be taken to kill the stump.
Things You'll Need
- Chain saw
- Protective eyewear
- 1/4-inch drill bit
- Herbicide containing glyphosate or triclopyr
- Rubber gloves
- Protective clothing
Cut the willow tree stump down to only a few inches high with a chain saw. This will expose fresh wood that will more readily absorb the herbicide. Wear protective eyewear to prevent eye injuries from flying debris.
Drill three or four holes into the surface of the stump along the inside edge of the ring of bark. Drill the holes to a depth of 1/2 inch with a 1/4-inch drill bit.
Paint the top of the stump with stump-killing herbicide containing glyphosate or triclopyr, using a small paintbrush. Apply the herbicide immediately after cutting back the stump. Wear protective eyewear, rubber gloves, a long-sleeved shirt and pants and apply the herbicide cautiously to prevent exposure. Paint the herbicide on generously enough to fill the drilled holes. This will prevent new growth from the stump and kill any sucker trees that have grown from it.
Tips & Warnings
- Follow the herbicide manufacturer's instructions and precautions carefully.
- Nearby trees with adjoining root systems due to root grafting may be killed along with the curly willow stump.
- Do not splash the herbicide on nearby plants as it may damage or kill them.
- Western Nevada College: ATTRA -- Woody Ornamentals for Cut Flower Growers
- Arizona State University Plant Files: Salix Matsudana
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Salix Matsudana “Tortuosa”
- Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States: Corkscrew Willow
- Michigan State University Horticulture: Trees to Avoid Planting in the Midwest and Some Excellent Alternatives -- Part 1
- North Dakota State University Extension Service: Questions on Willow
- University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County: Killing Woody Plant Stumps