Saturday, March 21, 2009

Invasive Plants

In the early 90's The Nature Conservancy began their "Last Great Places" designation.  They wanted to label places around the world that were the last of their kind, special, in need of protection.

Nantucket was named a "Last Great Place"

In pre settlement ( European) times most of the Eastern Seaboard was covered in what we call "Sandplain Grassland"  a mixture of native grasses that held together and built up the  fragile soils in these sandy areas.

The Sandplain Grassland is a wonderful ecosystem, diverse, colorful, deeply rooted.  Today about 80% of what is left of this magnificent ecosystem is living on Nantucket.  The   Last   Sandplain   Grassland.  There are also pockets on Marthas Vineyard,  the  Cape, bits of it here and there - but what counts for the fauna that needs this ecosystem to survive is not bits and pieces.

Plants of the Sandplain Grassland:  Little bluestem grass, Pennsylvania Sedge, Bearberry, various Asters........ this list needs more

You know the Sandplain when you are out at "Head of the Plains" and those magnificent rolling hills are before you, or when you are in the Middle Moors and that soft waving landscape is at your feet,  going by the  entrance to Sanford Farm - especially in fall when the Little Bluestem is in bloom - it looks like a giant animal lying in the sun, coat waving in the fall breeze.

Invasive plant species are rather like thugs.  The reason they are "invasive" is that they 1. are from somewhere else ( Asia, Europe)  2. they usually have not brought along the things that keep them in check ( beetles, browsers) so 3. they can out compete most plants that are native to a place.

Plants are very good a surviving - they employ humans to make them popular, to plant them, to nurture them.  They don't have brains, hands, opposable thumbs - they just perform some popular trick to get them noticed and enslave us to that end.

People have brains, hands, opposable thumbs - and the ability to discern, make choices, embrace morality.

In my design work, at my nursery "do no harm" is a by-word.  That applies to how I treat the soil, but also in the choices i make for myself and for my clients.  I do not want to be known as the person that introduced  "plantus terribleius"  to this fragile ecosystem - the unknown plant that eventually destroyed every native species on Nantucket.  Simple.

Invasive Plant list:

is the web site for the Maria Mitchell assn, invasive plant list, complete with pictures.

Photo is  Fall in Middle Moors, Little bluestem in bloom, Huckleberry in color.

1 comment:

  1. Are you "The gardens" that has the green truck parked on Main St every time I am in town from CA? I am doing a neat painting of it and wanted to know more about the green truck. Thanks. on FB at Bob Raser Art, or Bob Raser