Chinaberry Tree Roots Getting into Septic System

Hi Judy, I live in Florida. I have a beautiful feathery Chinaberry Tree that shades all of my Bromeliads. My neighbor is constantly begging me to cut it because she says the roots will ruin her plumbing. Is a Chinaberry any more harmful than any other tree? What tree can I replace it with if her fears are true??


Hi Mary Beth,

The Chinaberry is not a very popular landscape plant today. It is considered to be a messy, invasive plant. It’s shallow, spreading root system often clogs drains and damages septic systems. The fruit is poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched, immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants. They also have weak limbs which could easily break during a storm.



You might want to contact a professional tree service about removing the tree without damaging your septic system. Digging it out will probably be quite a chore. I think you should also call your local garden center, explain the situation, and see what they would recommend as a replacement.