[permaculture] Honey Locust_Environmental Weeds

darren at permaculture.biz darren at permaculture.biz
Sat Nov 6 15:05:22 EST 2004

Hello Everyone,


 Lawrence F. London, Jr. wrote: 

Joanne Murray wrote: 

Dear Paul, 
Bill Mollison planted 6 honey locust trees at a place called Whytalibah
in the Great Dividing Range in NSW several years ago.  It has become an
environmental disaster, destroying acres of land and infesting large
areas of the Mann River banks. The original trees were thornless but all
the ones that grew from seeds and suckers (which extended metres
underground) were covered with the most evil, lethal thorns, making the
whole area inaccessible and even hazardous for stock. 

I would like to see some photos of this infestation to see the life form
these Gleditsia's have taken - certainly the species can be a problem -
in Queensland (any summer rainfall area for that matter) the thorny
varieties can take on the form of thickets as opposed to magnificent
boles. I agree with LL that these "escapes" can provide a resource
however this is unlikely in Oz due to our relative affluence and the
ordained prescriptive approach to woody weed removal in this country. 

I have been establishing Gleditsia triacanthos var. Inermis for years as
a source of timber and pods. Tim Low the author of "Feral Future - The
Untold Story of Australia's Exotic Invaders", suggested in conversation
that these plantings of mine would be a problem in the future, if or
when South Eastern Australia's rainfall pattern moved from winter
dominant to summer dominant. Sure Tim (as vigorously pointed out) but
the underlying genetics of this true to type cultivar are such that the
progeny remain thorn free. Their appears to be a bit of horticultural
literacy required on both sides - carte blanche has never been my thing.

I have consulted/redesigned rural properties inspired by Permaculture
One etc. back in the 70's and 80's and they stick out like the peverbial
with a range of "environmental weeds" that are the source of much
rancour. Pampas Grass hedges, avenues of thorny Gleditsia's, hybrid
Salix edges, senescent Tagasaste, along with very interesting fencing
layouts! I haven't ever established any of the pampas - though the
others certainly along with many others. Taking a responsible approach
is the key.

A farmer student of mine has the quote: "sick of growing things that
wanted to die and killing things that wanted to live". This extends to a
lot of the stuff we try and establish - we remineralise, we do beautiful
ground preparation, we use healthy plant stock and we stake, guard and
irrigate, prune etc. to achieve our ends  - yet over the fence or right
next to us species proliferate and prosper without any of our molly

My approach is to target these species (more so if they are indigenous)
provided they fulfill the analogous purpose intended for in the design.
We are indeed fortunate in Oz with all of the Acacias, Casuarinas and
Eucalypts that we have as we don't have to look overseas all of the time
for something. Food species and fodder to a lesser extent are an another
point and we have to look globally for these as we haven't had the
breeding work done or they just aren't here. I would suspect that in
most places similar opportunities exist to exploit local species.
Working with farmers in Vietnam I know they take this approach as they
have an indigenous appreciation of the local species along with the
pragmatism of planting exotic species of commerce and food production. 

We await with interest the publishing of David Holmgren's promised tome
on the broad subject of "Weeds" - as a living and evolved thesis to
counter the sometimes lack of insight and often emotional eco-literacy
espoused in the environmental weeds debate. Certainly poor utilisation
of a locally successful species is one of the key approaches - in a rich
country though - lets stick 'em with neat herbicide and burn more oil. 

Yours and Growing,

Darren Doherty

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