There’s been much hype lately about the invasive plant species commonly called giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). Although from a different family, it has similar toxicity to the wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) which is so prevalent in this part of the country.
Janet Marinelli recently wrote an opinion piece entitled “As World Warms, How Do We Decide When a Plant is Native?” She asks what role gardeners should play in helping plant species migrate as temperatures rise and change botanical zones. She concludes that Emily Dickinson‘s movement of magnolias (Magnolia tripetala) to her homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts may be more appropriate than Thoreau‘s and Muir‘s desire to leave the wilderness alone.
Here are my thoughts:
The question is though-provoking. There have been a number of articles written by the naysayers that focus on a similar premise. This Yale article, like most of the others, does not address the problem of lost biodiversity created by the horticultural or the personal movement of the native plants. Biodiversity is maintained when the native plants are allowed to migrate on their own (adaptive evolution). Horticulturally or personally assisted movement of native plants, just like creating cultivars, limits the biodiversity continuum. These plants are no longer native; they are naturalized.
One other important fact not addressed in this article is the use of the ecoreogions map instead of the hardiness zone map to document the shifting of plants. The hardiness zone map only takes into account sunlight; hardly relevant to a native plant in its place. Native plants out of place are not native plants.
Just an added note: mastodons, giant ground-sloths and other megafauna are part of the biodiversity continuum.
I’d be interested in reading your thoughts on this question. Please leave a comment.
Happy 4th of July — a day we celebrate our independence from Great Britain. But what really happened that day? That was the day the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776). Two days after the Continental Congress decided to declare independence (July 2, 1776), and a month before it was actually signed (August 2, 1776). Later in November, it was delivered to Britain.
The freedoms that declaration created for Americans means we have the ability to choose for ourselves how to lawfully live our lives. We do not have to cow to peer pressure or politicians or bullies. We can choose to use logic, experience, science, intuition — whatever provides a level of comfort for us — to think about the environment in which we live and what our responsibility is toward the maintenance of that environment. Choose wisely; choose safely. Have a great 4th of July!
Have you ever thought about how you might personally help reduce residential water runoff to storm sewers or to recharge our ground water aquifer and improve water quality of streams and lakes? Creating a rain garden is easy and fun if you enjoy gardening, and its a great way to help the environment.