Mon, Apr 17, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Cypress trees suited for marshes, might tear roads: writer

By Yen Chun-hung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Bald Pine Avenue in Changhua County’s Tianwei Township is pictured on Saturday.

Photo: Yan Hung-chun, Taipei Times

Writer Wu Cheng (吳晟) on Saturday criticized the widespread planting of bald cypress trees at tourist spots and residential areas, saying the tree belongs in marshes and that its roots could damage road surfaces.

Wu said that Taiwanese believe in a “myth” about foreign trees, adding that foreign tree seeds, such as green maple, Madagascar almond, golden trumpet and cherry, often command higher prices on the local market.

Media reports on bald cypress groves and photographs showing their leaves turning yellow in fall depict the kind of imagery commonly seen in northern countries, drawing tens of thousands of tourists, Wu said.

Some residential complexes have also capitalized on the trend and planted the trees around housing units, he said.

However, the government following suit to plant cypress gardens is “far too crazy,” Wu added.

The trend shows Taiwanese are ignorant about trees and are simply being led along by tree vendors, he said.

The trees normally grow in marshes, and while they could survive elsewhere, their roots would protrude from the ground, posing a risk to children who might trip over them, Wu said.

Another downside of cypress trees is that they shed their leaves, Wu said, adding that the needle-shaped leaves are difficult to clean up.

Wu said that if the current trend continues, green maples and other trees might be cut down for “not being the right kind of tree.”

Bald cypress trees usually grow around the Mississippi River and the Bay of Mexico, National Chung Hsing University Experimental Forest caretaker Tseng Yen-hsueh (曾彥學) said.

Tseng said that the tree’s roots and leaves do not make it appropriate for planting in cities, despite offering excellent views in winter.

Tseng said that a committee that he is on turns down requests by government agencies to plant the trees near roads or on dry land, adding that planting a few in parks is acceptable.

Wu said he has written about his experiences on tree care in his book The Poet Who Plants Trees (種樹的詩人) and encouraged people to “grow beneficial trees to care for Taiwan.”

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