2014-01-31 at 10:32 am #44366
I live in Washington in a very populated area. A lot of water ecosystems around my area have both native and introduced species clustered together in between homes, running all through communities. I worked with an environmental anthropology group for a few years where we would often go out and do non-native invasive removal. I learned to despise things like English ivy, Japanese knotweed, Himalayan blackberry…
Watercress is an abundant volunteer in a couple places along my street, but even as I looked at it as “infesting” the water ways I also new that it was a nutritious source of food. Every year this one Asian lady would come harvest it. One day I did the same, blanched it, ate it, and kept the roots in a cup of water to harvest a couple more times and started to develop some mixed feelings.
A couple of friends of mine started a farm on camano island trying to incorporate the principles of natural farming, and they wowed me with their more expansive view of the blackberry that had taken over a lot of their new property.
“We welcome the blackberry. We cut back the branches and use them as material to build our swales and thank them for volunteering to help cover the land. If you look in the cities at disturbed areas blackberry is always the first thing to pop up, spreading it’s thorny branches over the torn earth as if to say ‘we will protect this spot of ground that you humans have first disturbed, and them abandoned.’ And they are so giving! In august they just send out this abundance of delicious fruit for everyone, without having anything from us in return.” ~Zak, caretaker of Ananda Farm, Camano.
It made me think, even my instructor in environmental ecology admitted that the blackberry, that invasive species we were always volunteering to rip out of parks and public reserves, was actually creating a safe environment and habitat for native birds whose natural habitat is constantly diminishing.
The house I am now living in has a lovely stream running through it and I have this idea of seeding this riparian zone with delicious garden veggetables that would require no watering. One side of me wants to throw seeds out there without thought or remorse, another to design it using only native species, and that hunk of watercress keeps popping up in my mind like a phantom saying “you know you want me, too.” Is what I’m considering a travesty?
What would you do?2014-02-09 at 12:44 pm #46378
I have thought about this very subject many times, but rather than write a a long reply, I would like to direct you to my Blog where I have written a paper on my feelings about “invasive species” http://ethnobotanist128.blogspot.com/p/some-thoughts-on-invasive-species.html
While there, you my want to browse the rest of the Blog to learn about the usefulness of these ‘evil invaders’. Let me know what you think.
http://www.thedandelionappreciationsociety.org/2014-03-12 at 6:05 pm #47644
Being from England the native / non native line is even more blurred. Alot of well non native established species that have been here for hundreads if not thousands of years are extremely useful and beneficial. If we didnt have non natives we would be very hungry if not starving due to the population we have right now.
Yet we have people also promoting native species as they are somehow better or more deserving. So I think it’s really a case by case basis I would ask does the new species threaten another unique one? What does the non native species provide or potentially provide?2014-04-01 at 5:47 pm #48752
Not an instructor. I think that the distinction between native and non-native species leads to a losing battle. Where I live in Southern California, Russian tumbleweeds, French snails, Australian eucalypts of all descriptions, and the like, are abundant and will stay that way. Seeds will travel, with or without our help. The genie is out of the bottle. Let’s not impale ourselves on the past, but practice the art of the possible: now that climate change is upon us, many habitats will change. Caution is and should be advised, along with using proven and tested substitutes for native plants in our landscape. Researching native plants of the southwest deserts, there is much there that will apply more to our gardens in the next generation.
Scott Mann reports that the progress of climate change is said to be about three miles per year out from the equator, so in the northern latitudes, he advises to look 300 miles south and plan your 100 year sustainable garden using species that will survive that shift. The local ecosystems will shift. Might as well prepare for it. The ground we stand on is shifting as we plan our next design.2014-04-04 at 10:56 am #48903
I used to live in the Pacific North West, and I miss the blackberry walls! I know, I know, they’re non-native, but nobody else is brave enough to grow up after someone puts down a railroad track or what have you.
Here in France, we have wild blackberries (but not in walls as in Washington State). My husband wondered why the heck I would plant even more blackberries in our yard–but I think they’re good for shelthering birds, maybe supporting foxes or hedgehogs–and for me. I intend to use them as a bridge between our yard and a vacant/wild-ish lot behind us. Again, to shelter and encourage wildlife.
We’ve been having such crazy, unpredictable weather here that I’m seriously down to what plants will survive a year of drought followed by unseasonably warm winters (or inversely record-level snowfall), followed by a late frost in June and then a cold summer. You can’t tell which end is up anymore. . .I’m afraid this is not the only place on the planet that is going down that road. I say plant what grows. Maybe see if you can keep some natives going too and protect them if possible. But you can’t protect against the entire weather system.
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