Amur Corktree Mapping and Control Project

Amur Cork Tree fruit and leaves

Amur corktree (Phellodendron amurense) has been planted as a landscape ornamental in a number of locations in Massachusetts. This large tree has distinctive cork-like bark and female trees produce large numbers of small black fruit that are readily eaten by American robin and other bird species, which then spread the seeds over the landscape. Note: Amur corktree is not the source of the cork that is used in wine bottles, cork flooring, bulletin boards, and badminton shuttlecocks. That cork comes from the cork oak (Quercus suber).

It was identified as a species in need of evaluation for invasiveness in Massachusetts by the Massachusetts Invasive Species Advisory Group in 2000. In response to this need, Mass Audubon documented the presence and spread of this Amur corktree on several of its wildlife sanctuaries, providing supporting documentation for its designation as Likely Invasive in Massachusetts.

Monitoring Locations

Boston Nature Center (Mattapan), Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary (Lincoln), Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield), Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (Sharon), and Waseeka Wildlife Sanctuary (Hopkinton & Holliston).

Project Description

Documentation of the presence and spread of Amur corktree was performed in 2004 at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Boston Nature Center, and Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary. At Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Amur corktree was found to have spread up to two miles from the point of introduction, and over 800 trees were located and measured.

In several locations, Amur corktree was found to be the dominant tree species present. Smaller infestations were documented at the Boston Nature Center and Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary. 

In 2011, a colony of Amur corktree was found at Waseeka Wildlife Sanctuary, including mature trees up to 24 inches in diameter at the base and numerous saplings and seedlings spread over several acres. 

The Waseeka colony has since been controlled by a combination of cutting and the application of a systemic herbicide directly to the freshly cut stumps. Amur corktree control has also been implemented at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, using similar techniques.