[permaculture] Exotic Plant Erradication

Kirby Fry peace at totalaccess.net
Sat Aug 10 10:32:20 EDT 2002

Hi Carla,

>>  When you visit the Big Thicket, there will be no grand vistas or
majestic mountain ranges to tantalize your eyes. However, you will see, when
you choose to look closely around you, a unique assemblage of species--some
endangered or threatened. This is the place called The Big Thicket.  <<

Indeed, I've been to the Big Thicket and appreciate its density and
diversity.  I believe it's quite the framework for other preservation
efforts, especially when it comes to the practice of connecting biological
islands with conservation corridors.

>>  Exotic plant invasions; plant-animal interactions; biodiversity  <<

Wow, how did you get a hold of all of that information?  Looks like some
very interesting stuff.

Allow me to steer our conversation to the topic of eradicating exotics which
is usually a very hot topic, and certainly the following commentary is not
directed at anyone personally.

I've spoken with many folks from the Native Plant Society of Texas and the
Society of Ecological Restoration about the roll of the tallow tree in Texas

I've heard that, and I'm sure the studies you sited are more thorough and
better rounded out that what I've gleaned from casual conversation, exotics
are the number two cause of species extinction, that trees like the tallow
and China berry have no natural predators and will therefor overtake an
ecosystem, generate a monoculture of themselves and provide negligible
benefits to the soil and wildlife around them.

These folks are ready to cut down any and all tallow and China berry trees
they come across.  If they had $40,000 for a project they might well spend
it on eradicating tallow trees and planting grasses and wildflowers, rather
than say, installing a permaculture.

My response is that, they themselves are exotic species to this continent
and that if exotic plants are the number two cause of species extinction
then surely the number one cause is exotic humans.  For starters, at least
half of our agriculture consists of exotic plants including the soy bean
which many vegetarians take some ethical refuge in for eating.

What should we address foremost, our behavior or the exotic plants that have
exscape our grasp?

It also seems to me that, the areas hardest hit by all exotic species are
disturbed edges, e.g. road ways, developments butted up to woodlands or
prairies, man made lakes and waterways, etc.  It's quite possible, when
looking through another set of lenses that, these exotic plants are the
beginning of natural succession rather than the end of it.  I've heard first
hand accounts of red maple, birch and oak coming up under tallow stands.

A frutivery study done in Louisiana also revealed that the tallow tree was
on the top of the list as a food source for birds and more species of birds
ate from tallow than most other trees.  How else would it get around so

So what it comes down to is one's paradigm.  How do we regard and treat
other life forms?  Do we wage a gene cleansing campaign against "exotic"
plants and usr fossil fuels to push down trees, pull down vines and pay
Monsanto for round-up to apply on Johnson and Bermuda grass?  Since the
plants are here do they have the right to stay, as we have surely given
ourselves that right, even though they may cause some species losses?  Is
Nature actually using these plants to guide our ecosystems towards greater
stability and diversity?

I don't know about others on this list, but my arm gets heavier and heavier
every time I raise it to cut a tree... any tree.

Kirby Fry

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