Hagonoy Eradication Project Version 2

My first Hagonoy Eradication Project Version was a failure. The good thing is, I now know why it failed! And I have a new and improved technique that works!

Version 1: Brute Strength and Fancy Tools

When I started the first Hagonoy Eradication Project in 2015, my goal was to find an efficient and safe method for removing hagonoy or Chromolaena odorata, an invasive weed that quickly spreads and can create a dense canopy that  prevents other plants and seedlings from growing. It can even climb up small trees and overwhelm them.  I thought that I could defeat the hagonoy with my brute strength and superior tools! Hahaha! I was mistaken.

For the first project site, I selected an open field that had many mature hagonoy plants growing in big clumps. I wanted to make a big impact by cleaning up the area with the biggest hagonoy plants. I thought the key was simply finding a big tool that could easily dig up the entire root of the hagonoy.  When I found a great tool that could handle the big hagonoy roots, I thought that I had the solution to my hagonoy problems. I spent hours digging up hagonoy, only stopping out of exhaustion!

At first it looked like it worked. I was unprepared for when the hagonoy returned. Today, instead of big hagonoy clusters, there are many, many small hagonoy plants covering the entire field. Argh! There are so many of them that they are even harder to remove. The field looks even worse now than before I started.

November 2015, before it was cleared
November 2015, after it was freshly cleared
March 2018 – it’s worse! Lots of small hagonoy plants and a lot of Madre de Cacao

The only hagonoy-free areas are the paths that Tonji mows regularly. It seems that mowing with a grass cutter is an effective way to keep hagonoy out. Notice how the sides of the path are full of hagonoy and madre de cacao. The area also had an explosion of madre de cacao! I don’t know if it’s related to my hagonoy removal.

2018 – no hagonoy on the path. Just Barkley!

Version 2: Use Your Brain.  And Fancy Tools Too.

In January 2017 I started version 2 of the Hagonoy Eradication Project. Instead of a big, open field I chose a much smaller, more manageable area. It is small area that is close to the cottage, easy to access, and is surrounded by trees.

While working on the new site, I noticed that the hagonoy growing inside the tree line is very easy to uproot. I realized that when hagonoy grows on good, soft soil with a lot of organic material like the soil found inside the tree line, it doesn’t spend a lot of energy on growing roots. Instead, it focuses its energy on growing leaves and branches.  When the hagonoy is in open fields where the soil is usually more depleted, then it tends to send down longer and more tenacious roots.

I was on the right track with my new site! By choosing to work inside the tree lines, I can just sit in the shade of the trees and use a hand tool. Much less effort than standing in an open field and attacking the weeds with a huge weeder-shovel!

This is  Hagonoy Eradication Site #1.  The brown area in the middle used to be a small patch of tall grass that Tonji mowed. There are different kinds of seedlings planted along the edge of the tree line. Most of the hagonoy at this site is gone. The site still requires some maintenance. There are small hagonoy plants that need to be pulled out. I think there were a couple of hagonoy that flowered in December and I wasn’t able to pull them out before they went to seed!


On the whole, I think this site is successful. It is in the stage where other plants are coming up in place of the hagonoy!

This is called Kandikandilaan. It was already present at the site and has spread even more. It attracts a lot of butterflies.

Stachytarpheta indica

We call this Limang Sugat. I never noticed this at the site before, but now there is a big patch of it there!

Pseuderanthemum bicolor

The most exciting part — the tree seedlings that just came up by themselves! Before, this was just a blanket of hagonoy that choked out everything else. Now we now have different kinds of plants coming up including new trees!

The first seedlings to show up in the area were Ipil Ipil or Leucaena leucocephala. I removed them and the tree they came from because they are a weed-like tree that can quickly form a dense thicket that blocks out all other plants.

Not sure what this is. Hauli?

This is  Hagonoy Eradication Site #2. It’s a line of trees in between the horse paddock and compost area. We also planted trees along the tree line. I will work on this site while the soil is still soft and easy to dig.


lots and lots of hagonoy!

This is a cleared section. The Talisay trees we planted are now free from the hagonoy that was choking them and blocking their light. Other things can now sprout from the ground. I used to drag the hagonoy out to the path so they would shrivel up and not suddenly spring back to life. Now I leave the hagonoy on the ground where they fall so they can serve as mulch.



I’m also going to try this tool and see if it’s easier to use than my hori hori knife.


Phase 2 – The Chipper!

In a few months when it’s summer and the ground is hard and dry, I will start Phase 2 of hagonoy eradication. Chop and drop time! There are a lot of dried branches and madre de cacao trees in the area that I can turn into wood chips. I will cover the areas around the trees with a thick layer of wood chips. This will improve the soil even more, make the trees grow better, and make any hagonoy that grows even easier to remove.  As a bonus, the roots of the madre de cacao trees that were cut will die back and become water channels. This is good for the trees other remaining trees. Soon, hard, dry, weedy soil will be a thing of the past. We will have soft, moist, hagonoy-free ground!

Hagonoy Eradication for Reforestation

There are many more areas with hagonoy at the sanctuary. I will continue to focus my hagonoy removal efforts combined with mulching with wood chips on the areas that already have trees and seedlings that we planted. This aligns with a method of reforestation called ANR or Assisted Natural Regeneration where instead of just focusing on planting trees, you also remove or suppress weeds to encourage naturally occurring wildings to survive. Removing the hagonoy in those areas will encourage the forest-like areas to expand and grow.

ANR is a method for enhancing the establishment of secondary forest from degraded grassland and shrub vegetation by protecting and nurturing the mother trees and their wildlings inherently present in the area. ANR aims to accelerate, rather than replace, natural successional processes by removing or reducing barriers to natural forest regeneration such as soil degradation, competition with weedy species, and recurring disturbances (e.g., fire, grazing, and wood harvesting). Seedlings are, in particular, protected from undergrowth and extremely flammable plants such as Imperata grass. In addition to protection efforts, new trees are planted when needed or wanted (enrichment planting). With ANR, forests grow faster than they would naturally. – from http://www.fao.org/forestry/anr/en/

Seedlings and Seeds Planted in 2017

The photo shows one of the Philippine Teak seedlings 6 months after it was planted on the ground. It is now 6 feet tall!


June 2017
from Dr. Ed Gomez, given in August 2016
3 Philippine Teak  – one died

July 2017
from Eric Puno
2 Lime

September 2017
from Joel Afable
1 White Magnolia (Malakoko)
1 White Champaca

October 2017
from Gina Mapua
1 Pili
1 Katmon

October 2017
bought from Mamabel’s at the Negros Fair
2 Atis, seedless
2 Red Lauan
2 Cinnamon
1 Blackberry Jam
2 Longkong
2 Peanut Butter (free)
1 Lime

November 2017
bought from Susan and Rey’s Garden, Mahogany Market, Tagaytay
5 Guyabano
5 Lanzones
2 Mangosteen
1 Mabolo
2 Marang
9 Papaya
2 Pomelo Davao
1 Pomegranate

November 2017
bought from Jonathan in Calamba
5 Ardisia squamulosa
4 Ardisia pyramidalis
34 Bagras (need to check if leaves are parallel)
2 Balai Lamok
4 Botong
4 Duklitan
9 Dungon
6 Leea (forgot to bring home)
10 Lumbang
2 Nyog-nyogan
4 Santan (native, with white fragrant flowers)
5 Siar
4 Tuai


July 2017
1 kilo Alupag Dimocarpus didyma, native longan (599 pcs)
1 kilo Amugis (478 pcs)
198 pcs Balai Lamok – most did not germinate
Tibig seeds from our tree – did not germinate

November 2017
Duhat seeds (native) from Jonathan in Calamba

Mystery Plant with Yellow Fruit

Maybe it’s some kind of spondias?

It looks like a tree with many long branches.


The clues:

  • winged rachis
  • I was told to look at Sapindales, Meliaceae, Sapindaceae, Anacardiaceae, Pleiogynium
  • the branches are reddish brown with beige spots
  • Tonji thinks he’s seen it growing in other parts of the farm and that we didn’t plant it


I picked up the fruit from the ground. They’re still this color!  The seeds in the front of the photo are from the dried up fruit.



What is it?

Rainy Season Swale Project

Rainy season is a good time to plant, remove invasive plants, and make a swale! A swale is a ditch that you build along the contour of the land to catch and slow down the flow of water. This will prevent the water from eroding the soil and creating a deep gully. Instead, you can direct the water towards trees and other plants.

Here is Tonji presenting our first swale project!


This is our first swale project. We’re collecting the water from the areas — here, the roofs, the run off water– because that area is higher and it slopes down here to the reforestation area. 

(So) This swale is about  100 meters and the water comes here, comes out here, at this point, and the water is collected in this swale which is around a hundred meters, to stop erosion inside the reforestation area there. 

(Because) That area has a slope, so all the water gets stuck here and collected and is slowly watering the trees that we are replanting as well as the forest area slowly.

You can see this drizzle has collected that amount of water and its going down here and if you follow the swale line a hundred meters then it will hopefully water these plants every time it rains. 

(So) These are Talisay and other trees. So this replanted area should be one of the best in the future because it will have a great water supply!