Continued discussion of invasive plants- ecology and environmentalism

Discussion in 'Plant and Tree Identification' started by Wildcrofthollow, May 22, 2006.

  1. Wildcrofthollow

    Wildcrofthollow Well-Known Member

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    "Wildcrofthollow, I believe that facts are facts and unmeasured perception is a poor substitute facts. If we decry that a species is a monster then it darn well better be a monster - not just look like one - but demonstrate real habitat damage. Cause when wolf gets cried too much then people start to dismiss the criers. People stop listening when poor lists are developed. In my opinion, fire and brimstone statements, and moreso scientific statements or regulatory claims, must have merit." ----Caballoviejo

    I need to make a few points concerning my own interest and set of values here in order for this to be an honest discussion

    First, I have absolutely no formal education in botany, or horticulture, or plant taxonomy or anything really beyond high school biology.
    I am completely self-taught. (I, unfortunately, was "too cool for school" and had "too much knowledge for college" :rolleyes: ) This places me in an interesting position. While there are fairly large holes in my knowledge base which may have been filled with formal schooling, I also lack many of the bad characteristics that seem to go along with more traditional academic training. (specifically, cramming for tests and then promptly forgetting most of the material) I am soon to be 44, I have easily 25 years or so devoted to self study of plants, specifically plants native to VA.

    Are facts facts? Whenever any group puts forth a set of "facts" they tend to spin those facts to make their viewpoint seem to be the best conclusion with the facts given. This has been true for as long as man has been able to talk. So whose facts should I use? and are those facts necessarily true? For years scientists have been debating Global warming. Now most folks agree that it is a truth, but for quite a while there were many "facts" which were being used to challenge and denigrate the theory of "Global warming".

    Quite some time ago I realized that , at least in my experience, sure enough the earth was warming. I used to ice skate every winter as a kid, now I haven't been able to in the past 25 years or so. So I used my perception of things to guide me to the most logical conclusion regarding the global warming debate.

    Is my perception that Kudzu is a monster in error? Possibly so. Is my perception unmeasured? Certainly to all of you this is true, but to me there is no doubt that kudzu has taken over an awful lot of land here in VA and a good bit more than that in more southerly states. I could be convinced that kudzu is not the monster that it seems to be were it not for all of the "facts" that point to the contrary. "Kudzu covers more that seven million acres in the deep south" for instance. (http://www.debwork.com/kudzu/template2.html)

    So, I am willing to be convinced, but you have to not only present me with facts, but also have those facts be more convincing than my perception, unmeasured or not, which is the only guage I have for the truth.
     
  2. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    on the kudzu issue i have to agree that it is an invassive monster. there may be small pockets of micro-environmental damage. perhaps only a few "willy nillies" exist in a kudzu area and are over-run and smothered by it. the loss of even one unique plant or animal of any kind is too great a cost.

    i never realized that garlic mustard was an invassive plant until my neighbor told me last year and then i read it on here not long ago. i had assumed because it was so wide-spread that it was native. i have at least an acre of the stuff i will probably never be able to get rid of. i thin it is a good idea to learn all one can before planting anything that is not native.
     

  3. vicker

    vicker Well-Known Member

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    Tree of Heaven is invasive as are many maples in the North East. There are many many invasive plants, that cause a lot of problems for us. Mainly by crowding out more useful native plants. Most were imported simply because they are ornimental. The sad thing is, that often, as in the case of the maples, the non natives are less ornamental than the natives :shrug:
     
  4. Dahc

    Dahc Don't Tase me, bro!?!

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    Nope, no one here believes global warming as put across by "scientists" these days. I'll leave that for another day though.

    Kudzu: It didn't originate here so I'm sure we can do without it ALL. I'm just thankful that's not a problem I have to deal with at this time. I have enough invasive plants around here. Always hackin' and choppin' and rippin' and poisonin'... It never ends.
     
  5. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    the problem that kudzu was imported to fix, is still here. so eradicating the kudzu really doesn't solve anything. we have vast tracts of it here (even tho the UT specialists say we are too far north :rolleyes: .eliminate the kudzu, and the mountainsides it covers will again be liable to slide right into the river.

    so imo, kudzu is both a blessing and a curse.
     
  6. Wildcrofthollow

    Wildcrofthollow Well-Known Member

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    As I have mentioned before, kudzu is really not that much of a problem here in VA.

    The truly bad one as far as I am concerned is Japanese honeysuckle. Jeez, I'll never be able to pull up all the honeysuckle on my property. (Though I seem to be having a go at it anyway)

    Other really bad ones here in VA are:

    Garlic Mustard (we don't have it in the hollow, but we watch very carefully)
    Ailanthus ( I have to cut these down from time to time)
    Purple Loosestrife
    Chinese Privet
    Japanese Stiltgrass
    Japanese Knotweed
    Russian Olive (Eleagnus)

    This is by no means a list of all the invasives here, Just the ones that I think are particularly problematic.
    Believe it or not, I am not against having most of these around, Some of them have quite a few redeeming features.
    I am just against having so much of them.
     
  7. Dahc

    Dahc Don't Tase me, bro!?!

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    What is it that grows straight up and has a knot or bulbus looking thing right in the stem itself? Whatever it is, it's second runner up to the J. Honeysuckle here. Every time I cut one down, one comes up.

    Before, I was the poison, burn, landscape type guy but now... Oh sheesh, this forum has really screwed me up... Now, I can't take a single step out in the yard without looking to see if I'm going to crush some medicinal herb or stomp out some edible thing... I even find myself wanting to propagate natives and stuff most folks don't eat anymore like purslane and lamb's quarter. I have a nice patch of lamb's quarter about 5' high now... lol.... But the invasives are really smearing my vision with doo doo because if I poison them or till everything under I'll destroy the good stuff too which I am still trying to identify.

    I think one of the worst I have is persimones(sp?). I gained over 30 trees in one year and not a single one is where I want it. One day there's nothing, the next day there's a tree with a two inch trunk growing. Half of them are almost 15' tall. Before this, I never thought of them as invasive.

    Mimosa is another serious problem here. I heard the bark and seeds from these can be sold but I'm not willing to let them grow, yet I'm not able to get them under control. I have also heard that if you drive a copper nail into the root base, it will kill the entire tree... I wish I had some copper nails. I tried it with 16penny galvanised nails and they just laughed at me. I hate those things. Why can't cabbage and brocolli be invasive?
     
  8. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

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    Invasive maples?
     
  9. Dahc

    Dahc Don't Tase me, bro!?!

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    That sounds more like sugar gum than maple. Those are somewhere on my list as well.
     
  10. caballoviejo

    caballoviejo Well-Known Member

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  11. vicker

    vicker Well-Known Member

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    Yes
    Norway Maple and Sycamore Maple are two. There are others. The Norway Maple, in particcular, does quite well for itself.
    Sugar gum (I assume you mean Sweet Gum)is a native tree.
     
  12. Wildcrofthollow

    Wildcrofthollow Well-Known Member

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    The term invasive species refers to a subset of those species defined as introduced species or non-indigenous species. Invasive species can alter ecological relationships among native species and can affect ecosystem function, economic value of ecosystems, and human health. A species is regarded as invasive if it has been introduced by human action to a location, area, or region where it did not previously occur naturally (i.e., is not native), becomes capable of establishing a breeding population in the new location without further intervention by humans, and spreads widely throughout the new location. Natural range extensions are common in many species, but the rate and magnitude of human-mediated extensions in these species tend to be much larger than natural extensions, and the distances that species can travel to colonize are also often much greater with human agency (Cassey et al. 2005). The majority of introduced species do not cause significant ecological change or environmental harm because they exist primarily in habitats already subjected to intensive human alteration; such species may not be considered 'invasive'.-- wikipedia definition

    Ok, this is not my definition, it limits the term invasive to those alterations made by humans. the term "invasive", as said by caballoviejo means that it spreads. I would add that invasive also means that it "invades" and takes over living space formerly occupied by more benign plants.

    For instance, on our property there is a lot of what I call running cedar (Lycopodium digitatum var. flabelliforme). It has taken over more than 10 acres of the property. There is a moratorium in VA on picking it, (it is used for Christmas greens) it is extremely slow to reproduce sexually, its main form of reproduction is vegetative. I would consider it invasive since it is edging out almost all other species on the forest floor. It should be noted here that this species is native and under some duress given the history of being picked so much. This flies in the face of what most ecologists and environmentalists are saying, but it is my perception that my property would be more biodiverse and healthier if there were less of it.

    That oughtta put me under fire :)
     
  13. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    is this what may be called "windy (w-eye-ndy) pine" ? it looks like an arborvitae on a vine? is it evergreen?

    if that is what it is, many folks used to make and sell wreaths from that stuff. it is kinda hard to find in some areas. i have seen some resurgence in my area in the past few years.

    perhaps not every area is "meant" to have a great diversity of plants. or perhaps not like you would expect. perhaps your land is "meant" to have a seemingly invassive presence of the stuff. maybe that is how it grows best.

    perhaps we as humans cannot perceive the cycles of growth and the dominance of one plant over another over time. maybe some plants prefer a patch of soil, etc., that is in a certain state in the cycles of forest growth. maybe your forest is now perfect for this stuff when 10 years ago or even 50 it was not.
     
  14. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

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    I'm confused a bit here. I never mentioned gum trees. I think that you mean because Norway Maples and Sycamore maples have been in cultivation here for many centuries, that they are invasive. They aren't native. Fraser fir isn't native in the northeast. Does that mean it's invasive? Many grasses aren't native. Honeybees aren't native either. Goats and most types of cattle, swine and all chickens aren't native. I'm just not sure if what you are saying is that, if it's non-native, then it's invasive.
     
  15. Wildcrofthollow

    Wildcrofthollow Well-Known Member

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    I agree, this is why I havent reduced its population. I was trying to point out that IMO native species could be considered invasive as well. But your point is well taken, we as humans are ill equipped to perceive the bigger picture. But we sure are good at changing it.... scary really.
     
  16. caballoviejo

    caballoviejo Well-Known Member

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  17. Terry W

    Terry W Duchess of Cynicism

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    I popped into this out of curiousity--
    My Senior research paper was in invasive plant species-- control and eradication methods used in the local area.
    Maybe I can Clarify a couple terms for people--

    Invasive- able to take over an area, due to lack of enviromental contols.
    Invasive species are not necessarily introduced from another country...


    Non-Native/Alien-- introduced from another area. Sometimes from the same continenet, other tim3es from another contionent, or heck, even a different county!!

    Kudzu and Crown Vetch are examples of invasive aliens- both purposely imported for erosion control and fodder. Obviously, Crown Vetch is not the problem that Kudzu is.

    Some plants have been intoduced and living here for SOOO long, that they are NATURALIZED-- many pasture and hay grasses( brome, orchard, timothy) fall in this catagory-- not invasive, but here so long that people do not remember them not being present. Think Daylilies here-- the orange "ditch lily" of the roadsides.

    Cattails-- we now have two/three types The broad leaf ,(native) narrow leaf(imported) and a hybrid. It is very difficult to find a stand that has all the broad leaf characteristics.

    Phragmites was imported as an ornamental by people wanting a nice "wetland" grass-- well, the imported variety is now, here at least, running rampant, crowding out ALL the natives, and crating fire hazards while the native phragmites * (which has a natural die back in the fall) is super hard to find. Meanwhile, in it's native country (England) the invasive phragmites is dying off-- almost to a threatened status at this point

    Running cedars, ground cedars are native plants-- the fact that they are growing well is proof of upper wetland type conditions. They grow in rich, moist soils-- and the fact that I found some for my botany class proved to the professor that I ranged in places my 20 year old classmates would not go in order to complete that project!!!

    Many things can happen to make a plant "invasive"
    the most important is the removal of environmental controls. A common control is simply the presence of SOD!!! The thick web of roots that can prevent a seedling from setting fown its own root system. This is why one sees such things as Garlic Mustard by the acre. ANother is growth habit-- p[lant a "new" plant that has a super deep root, and once it is established, no plow will eradicate it-- as the root and vegetative reporductve processes are below the till area of the plow blades.
    Another control that is removed-- predators. Yes, plants, as a food souce, is "prey" But then, accidentally imported insects become invasive and destructive because they have been removed from their predators, as well. (Dutch Elm disease-spread by the Bark Beetle, Emeral Ash Borer)

    Some plants were imported with a utilitarian purpose-- like Multiflora rose. It made for a great root stock in nurseries, and a great natural fence to separate livestock from predators.HE#r, in Ohio, it is against the lawe to propagate it, transplant it, etc, without a nursery license. Finally, after all these years, a natural form of control is starting to emerge-- a diseas that affects the buds of the plants. Me, I'll let my sheep keep browsing it-- its a good source of vitamins for them.
    Honeysuckles, escaped from landscapes-- the easiest way to tell native from non-native-- cut a woody stem. If it is hollow or has a soft pith-- NON NATIVE. The Native have a woody center.

    One of the books I used for my reseach paper centered itself on "weeds" of the Northeast--It labelled each plant as to origin, date of introduction, and the reason why they have the official "weed" designation, Ohio lists 26 "weeds" in it's administrative code-- each state will have it's own set of such "weeds"

    I hope this helps clarify a bit--I would KILL ro have more ground cedar on the property-- running pine, etc.... but at least I was ablewe to "find" the intermittent stream by using thoise plants as part of the process!!
     
  18. vicker

    vicker Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, the person who posted below you there mentioned "Sugar Gum"
    And I meant that those maples are invasive, because they crowd out the more valuble, and native timber trees.
     
  19. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

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    Although I live in kudzu country,I haven't yet had the pleasure of doing battle with it,so I can't comment on that one.Japanese huneysuckle,however,is a constant battle on my property,but still isn't my arch nemesis.
    Cogon grass,commonly referred to as "jap grass",is pure evil.Aside from the fact that is destroys the habitat of the local wildlife(including the endangered gopher tortise and indigo snake),it wreaks havoc on timber,both planted,and native.The majority of my property is planted in slash pine timber,which is typically very fire-resistant,but this stuff burns so hot,that during a controlled burn,it will actually boil the sap,and kill the timber.With a very strong glyphosate solution,and a follow-up treatment,I can kill it,but it seeds itself quickly,and pops up everywhere.Treating my tree farm with a pre-emergent herbicide might help out,but would tip the scales of profitability.
    I couldn't say one way or the other about kudzu,but cogon grass is something to be very,very worried about.
     
  20. caballoviejo

    caballoviejo Well-Known Member

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