The downside of growing Peacock trees

I normally like surprises when it comes to the garden, but then sometimes I don’t. All I did was go out for a few hours one afternoon, and when I came back, I found this:

Branch from the peacock tree that became too heavy for the tree to hold upright

A branch from my previously fallen peacock tree finally got too top-heavy, causing the branch to split off from the trunk. Yes, it’s my experimental tree mentioned in an earlier post. Because the main trunk is almost horizontal, the new stems grew straight upwards. I’ve never seen such perpendicular branches before. Anyway, from what I’ve observed, peacock trees grow nicely up to about 3 or 4 metres. After that, if you don’t prune them, you can expect the tree to take action on its own – uproot itself or have branches break off. This particular branch is 5 or 6 metres long, and cutting it to size to dispose of it is not going to be fun. Here’s why:

Big, sharp thorns liberally adorn the stems of peacock trees, and as the stems mature and become woody, so do the thorns...

Thorns. Lots and lots of sharp thorns. They’re bad enough on the green stems:

The needle-sharp thorn on a young stem of the peacock tree

Getting poked by these thorns is like being pricked by a needle. They’re incredibly sharp, and it’s pretty painful when they nab you. I’ve got thick latex-coated gloves – the type that durian sellers use – but they don’t protect you perfectly from the vicious peacock thorns. This is the perfect plant to put around the perimeter of your garden if you want to deter intruders – it looks so pretty, but get up close and personal, and oh boy are you going to get it! I’m definitely not looking forward to disposing of this branch… :(

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