Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thoughts about "Invasive" Species

"Chuck – What would be nicer than being able to utilize invasive species for some good?  Here are some examples with Autumn Olive.  Of course Norway Maple and Tree of Heaven have been used successfully for firewood for years.  I have also used Autumn Olive and Honeysuckle Bushes for firewood.  I recently read how delicious Autumn Olive berries are in pies and fruit candy.  And there is a local beekeeper who praises the flowering schedule of Japanese Knotweed.  He even offers a Japanese Knotweed honey.  The bowls and firewood (except the bottom front) in the photos are Autumn Olive.
Have a memorable Christmas,
Jeff Wartluft
Jeff has proven the old adage that one man's trash is another's treasure. The plates pictured are beautiful, and the AO firewood will burn just dandy.

Courtesy: Jeff Wartluff

Courtesy: Jeff Wartluff

Courtesy: Jeff Wartluff
Pretty nice for a species that many land managers would like to exterminate. Maryland Master Gardener Ellen Nibali explains why in the video below. Her complaints are: that the Autumn Olive is too successful as a bird food, which leads to its prolific natural seeding process; it fixes nitrogen and makes the soil too rich so that certain poor-soil plants are excluded; it blooms with a fragrance that is so sweet that it is "almost nauseating"; and since only some birds like the berries, others which don't move away and thereby reduce the diversity of the bird populations in the neighborhood. Hmmm, must be a Republican plant.



Comments on the YouTube site where this video was posted indicate that quite a few folks disagree with the negative connotations ascribed to the Autumn Olive in the video, for the same reasons Jeff points out...the plant does have its redeeming qualities. A few of the commentators agree with Ms. Nibali that species which tend to out-compete the "natives" should be eliminated because they tend to thrive and change the landscape and the inhabitants thereof.

So the battle of man versus nature continues...the earth continually changing, man continually trying to control that change. We pick the species composition of landscapes we prefer to "save", while the species themselves fight for independence and the right to "invade" and inhabit. Bugs and disease continue to take out certain tree species, while other trees move into the landscape to replace those that are killed. We battle to stop natural evolutionary processes brought about by changing climate. And if we can't stop the bugs and diseases, then we'll stop the climate from changing.

Or we won't. The earth doesn't seem to mind us too much, either way.

3 comments:

Jack said...

I'm not sure, but it sounds like you are overlooking that invasive species are generally a change that was brought about by humans. You say, "We battle to stop natural evolutionary processes..." but these invasive species are not exactly invasive as a result of natural processes. These invasive species were generally brought to their new locations as a result of humans bringing them, sometime on purpose and sometimes unknowingly. Can you clarify?

Chuck Ray said...

Sure, Jack. I tend to think long term. Do you assume there was no movement of species prior to man's interaction with the planet?

Also, do you assume that the current landscapes and ecosystems represent some optimal ecological point in time? And that any change from here on brought about by invasives, whether introduced by humans or not, is necessarily bad for the planet?

My point is that we are part of the natural ecosystem, as much as are the bugs, scalies, and furrys that transport other forms of life. Go Wood reader George Grozdits sent me a couple of documents in response to this post...one included the quote that "Since European discovery and settlement almost 500 years ago, nearly 6,300 species of non-native plants, animals, insects, and pathogens have been introduced to North America" and the other was a reference to a presentation made at this year's FPS conference that focused on the "invasive" black locust tree that was brought here in 1601 by Europeans.

So, I count us as part of the "natural" global ecosystem, and our activities as part of the evolution of that system. To quote that great scientist, Dr. Ian Malcolm of "Jurassic Park" fame, "life will find a way."

Tree Removal Brooklyn said...

It depends on the invasive species, like said in the post above, some have proved useful with their use as firewood replacements. This is good, but there are other trees and invasive flora and fauna that'll do nothing but basically kill off other species.

-Samudaworth Tree Service