Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Marilyn Wellons circulated the following comments to a neighborhood association listserve. She was responding to a promise of "public service announcements" by another subscriber that would feature alerts on specific "Noxious Weeds in the City to Eradicate."

The first such alert was posted May 29, 2011 and featured bindweed and black swallowwort.

Wellons's post, June 1, 2011:

The Arnold Arboretum's Peter Del Tredici discusses not only Black swallowwort (p.126) but Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium), Field bindweed (Convulvulus arvensis),and Tall morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) (p. 106) in his useful book, Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast (Cornell, 2010).

The book aims to "open people's eyes to the ecological reality of our cities and appreciate it for what it is without passing judgment on it." So-called weed trees are "just as good at sequestering carbon and creating shade as our beloved native species or showy horticultural selections. . . . [I]f one were to ask whether our cities would be better or worse without Ailanthus,the answer would clearly be the latter . . . ." (p.2).

Weeds have an "innate capacity . . . to capitalize on the mess we have made of the planet" (p. 19). Bad-mouthing them "makes it virtually impossible to recognize the positive contributions they are making to the ecology of cities," e.g., temperature reduction, erosion and pollution control, inter alia (pp. 17-18).

"Restoration" to some idea of native--as funded by Cambridge at Magazine Beach--is "both ecologically and evolutionarily impossible. . . . In an urban context, the concept of restoration is really just gardening dressed up to look like ecology. . . ." (p. 16).

He notes analogies to human disturbance and immigration. There is the dynamic of cities, "as one ethnic group replaces another when the socioeconomic status of a given neighborhood shifts either upward or downward" (p. 14). There are attitudes about invasive that "mirror the political debate about undocumented aliens" (pp.17-18).

People may want to consider hit lists of any sort very carefully.