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Thread: A fleeting idea for helping in conservation

  1. #9

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    Oct 2004
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    "For example, would I want to put in many species, or just one to keep a pure strain? Should they be wild-grown plants/seeds? What season should I do it during? How do I know if the soil is even suitable? I'm sure I'd have a hundred questions if I really thought about it."

    This comes down to personal choice, It is your land. What do you want to do?

    Some people are purists. Some are not. You may need to do a little research before you determine what your beliefs are and there is always tomorrow. I am a purist as pertains to the wetland and woodland areas on my property. I will only plant species that are indigenous to my region. No exceptions and preferably species that are from a local genotype and if I can't get my hands on that I will go to a 100 mile radius but not beyond a 200. When it comes to what is in up close around my home that "I can keep my eye on", well then I generally am no longer a purist providing the species I plant is not invasive.

    There are many introduced species (non natives) that are extremely well behaved although there are those who will tell you differently. Take for example hostas and daylilies. We're all familiar with those. These plants do not "invade" and wreak havoc in the environment but they are Eurasian in origin and therefore there are purists who will not plant them under any circumstances favoring species native to North America. Me, I have at least a hundred. I like them. Sarracenias would not be deemed to be invasive by me although I suppose there are purists out there who would disagree if you planted anything other than flava or purpurea as others are evidently not naturally occurring in your range. I do not believe planting sarrs will contaminate your bog (actually I would encourage you to plant anything you can get going in the form of a CP in your bog) however I have no doubt there are those who would disagree.

    Not all plants that are non native in origin are invasive and the truth of the matter is that we have a few native species that can be rather... shall we say aggressive as opposed to being non pc and referrring to them as invasive?

    Let's take a look at Purple Loosestrife. This is a perfect example of an exotic species that is most definitely invasive. A friend of mine wrote this about the species, "Beautiful it may be, but this plant (and its cousin, L. virgatum) is deadly to North American wetlands. It is quite out of control, and is listed as a biological invasive in at least 30 U.S. States, banned for sale or growing in at least 14 U.S. States, and banned or regulated in areas of Canada as well. The self-sterile hybrids are not exempt from this status, as they pollinate wild-growing stands and thus contribute hugely to the problem.

    Purple Loosestrife doesn't sweep through your garden, taking everything out along the way, it disperses by massive seeding into the wild, particularly into wetlands, and quickly establishes itself and takes over, becoming a monoculture. In addition, hundreds of species of wetland birds, fish, and mammals are seriously impacted by the loss of food, shelter, and breeding areas as PL chokes out their resources.

    There is an enormous amount of effort made by organizations all over North America to control the rampant spread of this species. Eliminating the problem is not likely to happen, but groups ranging from grassroots to governmental are expending a great deal of effort, time, and money to educate the public about this plant in an effort to control further spread. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to this plant, where you may seek more information."

    This was also written about the species in 1999, the author was Joann C Guttin-
    "Most botanists in this country want to kill every single one of those gorgeous plants you see on the opposite page. Could they be wrong?

    IF PLANTS WERE PEOPLE, purple loosestrife would be Xena, warrior princess. Halfway between an herb and a shrub, it can reach several feet higher than a basketball player and it's plenty tough. One wildlife manager suggests the only effective way to get rid of loosestrife is to take a blowtorch to its roots. Yet a large stand of loosestrife in summer, with thousands of vivid purple plumes piercing the horizon, is a sight worthy of strong poetry As naturalist John Burroughs wrote: "Your eye ... will revel with delight in the masses of fresh bright color afforded by the purple loosestrife which ... shows here and there like purple bonfires."

    Charles Darwin, perhaps the rounding member of the purple loosestrife fan club, wrote botanist Asa Gray, "I am almost stark, staring mad over Lytbrurn.... For the love of heaven, have a look at some of your species and if you can get me some seed, do!"

    Yet this captivating plant is increasingly seen by North American botanists as an alien invader more insidious than the lowliest weed. Like many other plants and animals, usually foreign in origin, that mature fast, multiply prolifically, spread like wildfire, and often crowd out native species, looseStrife has been swept into the category of invasives. And in the past decade, control of invasive species has become the hottest of hot-button environmental issues. Six years ago the World Conservation Congress declared invasives second only to habitat loss as a threat to global biodiversity. Two years ago 500 scientists signed a letter imploring Vice President Al Gore to act against them. "We are losing the war against invasive exotic species," the letter read in part. "We simply cannot allow this unacceptable degradation of our nation's public and agriculture lands to continue." Several months ago the Invasive Species Council was formed, cochaired by the secretaries of interior, agriculture, and commerce.

    As pressure to do something has grown, the language used to describe invasives has begun to sound like wartime propaganda. Loosestrife has gone from being a nuisance and an interloper to a botanical bully and a green cancer. The plant no longer spreads; it invades, or infests. An appearance is an outbreak, a purple plague. Sometimes the fervor seems xenophobic: "The American people expect native species on their forest lands," declared a forest service official recently."

    My point would be that you might want to consider identifying what is already present on your property before you plant species of interest to you. No sense planting anything if you have any aleopathic or invader species present as your best efforts may be thwarted. You wrote this, "Anyway... I'm getting the feeling that simply having more plants in the world today than you had yesterday isn't enough when it comes to trying to protect a species." Unfortunately you hit the nail on the head. Having the wrong kinds of plants in an ecosystem can have a devastating impact. It's all about habitat and if one does not provide the appropriate habitat, endangered and threatened species of both flora and fauna will never survive. The presence of logging concerns me as that is generally indicative of disturbed land which provides ample opportunities for invasives to get a good foothold. Perhaps your family is already addressing these issues by planting back native bare roots as well as taking other action. You asked this question, "Would a buffer of an acre or two be enough to protect the plants when the trees come down?" The answer is probably no from an invasive standpoint. These species are so incredibly successful at out competing native vegetation because they generally reproduce both vegetatively and sexually. These seeds are carried by wind, water, and critters to uninfected soil. As in the case of purple loosestrife where a single plant can set millions of seeds, the only buffer would be to physically remove the plants and deal with the seed bank left behind. A lot easier said than done I might add.

    You stated this, "It's probably too late to get things going for this year". Nope, never too late to start any worthwhile endeavor. Your heart is in the right place and you most assuredly have a vested interest in that land as it will be in your family for years. Land is land and you are very blessed to have that in your family. To top things off, you obvioulsy love and respect the land. You have no idea how many children I deal with who have never set foot on a praire let alone anything the magnitude of what you described with that one acre pond. They've never been exposed to anything other than asphalt and turf. Sad commentary. Watching them as they run and roll and tumble for the first time is awesome. Sounds to me as if your children will never be in the same boat because of the land your family has.

    And yes, it would be very cool if you discovered you had sarrs there on your property all along!

  2. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    United Kingdom
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    You could try potting up a cultivated sarracenia in the soil from your bog to see if it survives. Buy a Judith Hindle from here or something to test.
    Alexis Vallance, U.K.
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