Gardening / The thorny problem of Mop-Top suckers

Mop-Top Robinia suckers… out of control.

I HAVE had a stream of inquiries on how to stop suckers from the ever-popular Mop-Top Robinia and the simple answer is: you never will!

Cedric Bryant.

It grows faster than it can be killed with glyphosate.

The Mop-Top is a particular variety of Robinia grafted on to the common Robinia acacia, no relation to acacias except the similarity to the leaves. Unlike the main trunk and top, the suckers have wicked thorns that can puncture a thong, making it an unsuitable plant where children play. Generally, it’s accepted that it will only sucker if the roots are disturbed, which is nonsense as this picture illustrates: two Mop-Tops in a totally grassed area with a forest of suckers where children play! I would never recommend these trees.

AS gardeners, I believe we have a responsibility to our neighbours as well as ourselves, preferably to keep on friendly terms. If you have neighbours who simply neglect their garden, particularly the front and nature strip, it can affect the value of your home.

It is the householder’s responsibility to keep trees clear by at least 1.5 metres from power lines at all times. In reality, this needs to be at least two metres as most trees in one season can grow back that distance.

All line clearing must be carried out by arborists approved by ActewAGL.

In the early days of the free issue of trees and shrubs, the information given by the Yarralumla Nursery was totally inadequate. Most gardeners had no idea how large shrubs, let alone trees, would grow.

LOST… An electrical box buried in foliage.

In new suburbs with underground power, small, green, electric, pillar boxes are located along the street. Two examples are shown here, one clear and the other surrounded in foliage. The boxes must be kept clear at all times for maintenance.

Note the row of holes near the top for air circulation. If the inside overheats the electric system can fail, possibly knocking out the street power. Although gardeners may want to disguise them, it is vitally important not to plant close to these boxes.

FOUND… An electrical box cleared, as preferred.

HOW old are magazines in your local waiting rooms? I thought I had broken the record with “The Australian Gardener” dated 1998 in a doctor’s rooms. But I broke my own record at Calvary Hospital recently with “Your Garden” dated 1994, just 23 years old! Neither magazine exists any more.

The 1994 edition provided information for “small eucalypts for the backyard, bringing tremendous benefits to a garden”! They included E. cinerea (which grows to more than 10 metres), E. pulverulenta  (to 10 metres) and Leucoxylon rosea ( also to 10 metres). They’re all rather too large for today’s gardens in Canberra, let alone the 270-400-square-metre blocks.

There again, the new number plates confirm it is the “Bush Capital”. As numerous readers have pointed out to me, Flemington Road is a good example!

In one of those magazines, readers’ letters suggested methods of stopping my favourite songbird, the blackbird, digging for worms. One suggestion was tying balloons on sticks along the path. The other reader horrified me, placing a row of mice traps along the path; they said they killed up to half a dozen blackbirds by breaking their necks!


  • No excuses, the soil is soft after the rain to plant the last of the bulbs.
  • Liliums, Hippeastrums and Sprekelia bulbs can all be planted.
  • This is the week to divide root-bound herbs. Repot using premium potting mix mixed with 1/3 washed river sand. Pot up the balance for spring fetes or use them to fill gaps in the garden.


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