Local students came to our park & ripped out non natives

ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)May 1, 2012

Look, I know they came out to beautify the park and all, and I love that they do that. It teaches young children the importance of taking care of our environment.

However, I don't like that they ripped out perfectly healthy plants, all because they weren't "native". I don't like that. They of course replaced them with native ones.

I understand the ideal of planting native, and it's good the elementary students are learning about it. I have no feelings either way on the subject of going native, but I do have feelings about ripping out something that is healthy and beautiful.

Hmmmmmm, I'm a born and bred Yankee,my husband is from Texas, should I trade him in because he's not native to here in NY?

Here is a link that might be useful: SUNY Fredonia students helping to restore Centennial Park

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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I dunno.....

Long as they replaced the plants there is little problem.

On the extreme imagine your disappointment going to Italy and seeing forests of silver maples. Or that of a Chinese man coming to California and finding bamboo instead of Redwoods.

And from the slow to adapt animal's standpoint imagine the thrill of coming home for the summer and finding some weedy empress and mimosas instead of the natives you knew were good for food and nesting.

Just for debate.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 3:17PM
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ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)

I see your point. It's just it seemed (to me) like such a superficial, shallow thing to do to remove healthy plants like that.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 3:23PM
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esh_ga

superficial, shallow thing to do to remove healthy plants like that.

Did you know that many non-native plants do not benefit local fauna? Insects don't nibble on their leaves much so the insect population goes down (remember people like those non-native plants because they are pest free?). Birds don't have as many insects to eat, so their populations go down.

Restoring natives can help the local ecosystem be more like it should be. Perhaps that is what the students were learning about in school and then putting into practice.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 3:53PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Some of those non-natives were probably on the invasive list for your area.
Mike

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 4:03PM
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j0nd03

Just think of it as providing the best possible situation for local biodiversity. How many North American native insects have been specialized to take advantage of mimosa? Chinese tallow? How about paulownia? Now think of all the insects that benefit from having local native plants they can take advantage of and therefore benefit predators that eat the insects and then predators that eat the predators and so on. Of course this includes foraging, pollinating, larval development etc. How are our native insects and animals supposed to reproduce normally with non native habitats? They can't!

John

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 4:12PM
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wisconsitom

I'd have to know WHAT non-natives got removed. They're simply not all the same. In some ways, this is the new tyranny.

Don't get me wrong. I love native plant communities. But there's just so many ways for this to go wrong........way wrong.

Ima leave it there for now. It's a big, big topic.

+oM

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 6:00PM
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greenthumbzdude

well, from a ecological standpoint natives provide the max amount of resources for native fauna. Non natives can only provide shelter while natives provide food, shelter, and a place to raise young. To want non natives flourishing in a natural enviroment is a selfish thing to say.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:01PM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Question: Can man reverse the incredible damage that has been done to the native environment or are we just whistling Dixie? "Just for debate." :)
hortster

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:26PM
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sam_md

hi ilmt,
wanna know what I've been doing 'till dark? Removing oriental bittersweet, jap. honeysuckle, multiflora rose, wineberry and TOH from my property, so you already know the way I feel about these weeds.
I'm guessing that you live in a REALLY remote part of NY state. The concept of invasive plant removals by volunteers has been going on in the mid-Atlantic for several years. I've been on several of them. We target globally rare habitats such as serpentine barrens, magnolia/pitcher plant bogs and Old Growth Forests. There is a beautiful public park on the Susquehanna River not far from me which is covered with Trillium, phlox and columbine. Volunteers do their best to keep out the garlic mustard but it takes a tremendous effort.
When you say ...ripping something that is healthy and beautiful surely you are not talking about Japanese knotweed, Canada thistle, exotic honeysuckles, Callery pears, White mulberry, English Ivy, Kudzu, Mile-a-minute, just to name a few. What exactly are you talking about?
The Centennial Park invasive removal in your link took alot of coordination and hard work. I'm asking you to dig a little deeper in your understanding of plant communities and the role that they play in the ecology.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:38PM
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wisconsitom

Exactly what I was getting at-what was being ripped out?

I've been involved in the removal of truly harmful invasive plants for thirty years. I need no primer in the harm they're doing. But all this original post does is tell us something was torn out.

Additionally, the by now tiresome yarn about only native species providing anything beyond shelter for wildlife is patently false. Take buckthorn for example: The very means by which it is able to continuously invade hew areas is exactly the result of its palatability to birds. Doesn't mean it's not a scourge-we just have to be honest about how some of this is happening.

But in the state I live in, I've seen the d*mnedest species end up on "invasives" lists, so we end up with people fretting about a few Norway spruce in a woods somewhere-pure madness, while the true problems march on.

Anyway, we erupt in a similar discussion every few months around here. I've been here before. The invasives issue is complex, not simple, and simple takes on it are bound to be wide of the mark.

Then there's the whole issue of fine native species dropping out of the plant community due to imported pest, like hemlock for you guys to my east. Whose to say our future might not contain efforts to find more or less equivalent species to take their place in these newly emptied ecological niches? I believe such thought is at the forefront of modern ecology.

+oM

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:54PM
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poaky1

I agree with the OP within reason. If they are taking out invasives that are truly harmful, which I asume all INVASIVES are. Why not ADD some natives to what was there and not INVASIVE? I'm sure the teachers etc didn't intend to send a negative message at all, but in a way it sends the message that the OP mentioned about her/his hubby. Unless they rename it as a native plant only park, I don't know why they would do away with all or many of the non-natives. If everyone did away with foreign/ imported plants we would be denying ourselves alot of beautiful plants. Just my view of the topic.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 1:32AM
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esh_ga

Until the OP replies we have no idea what plants were removed. Neither the OP nor the article indicates if the plants removed were invasives or just non-native ornamentals that had been planted there earlier

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 8:51AM
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ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)

I'm getting ready to make some calls to find out. I wanted to wait til 9am my time (now) to call. I can't promise I'll find out what they were, but I'll give it my best shot! Thanks everyone for replying.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 9:01AM
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hogmanay

Sounds like they pulled invasives. If so, good for them. We need more of that. In fact, just my little slice of NORBAM we could keep some Civilian Conservation Corps folks gainfully employeed pulling invasives. I'm all for it.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 9:20AM
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ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)

Ok, I talked to one guy who was very nice. He is getting someone to call me to tell me exactly what they pulled out. At first he told me they relied on the students to tell them what was invasive. I said what, how would they know, and he said well they had a Science teacher with them. He said I don't know the names of anything they took out except that there was Bamboo and a lot of it. He said in fact there was so MUCH bamboo they didn't have enough time in the day to get it all out, and there is still a lot left. He said it was getting in the way of the other plants. He said the plants that were removed were all invasive.

He is having someone call me to name me the plants.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 9:36AM
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j0nd03

"...people fretting about a few Norway spruce in a woods..."

I love it when the "coneheads" justify Norway spruce invading woodlands because it is pretty (some even think more beautiful than the native spruces we have) but can't stand the thought of ALMIGHTY END OF THE WORLD INVASIVES like a hibiscus, or euonymus, or buddleia in the pasture. Hypocrites...

John

ps - this was not directed at you Tom

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 9:40AM
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mackel_in_dfw

Hahahahahahahahaha. Cracks me up, they couldn't get all of the bambbo out in one day...

El Bammbusero

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 4:19PM
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calliope(6)

My take on it is exactly the same as wisconsitom's. I cringe at the invasives as well. I also know a lot of mis-information about non-native plant species is floating around, even from science teachers. Heck even some government sources. It's incredibly complex, and much of what passes for the truth needs to be quantified.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 5:46PM
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esh_ga

Additionally, the by now tiresome yarn about only native species providing anything beyond shelter for wildlife is patently false. Take buckthorn for example: The very means by which it is able to continuously invade hew areas is exactly the result of its palatability to birds. Doesn't mean it's not a scourge-we just have to be honest about how some of this is happening.

Who is saying that ONLY native species provides anything beyond shelter? Of course the birds eat the berries of those things - that's a prime reason they get spread around! But when it comes to insects eating foliage, it is still true. Most native insects will only eat native plant foliage - at least in sufficient quantities to flourish and support healthy bird and predator populations.

As for the berries, there is some small amount of research that some native birds get, ounce for ounce, more nutrition out of native berries than non-native berries.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 6:05PM
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wisconsitom

Esh, that comment appeared earlier in this very thread! Ya gots to read.

Also, I would require a large grain of salt for what is obviously reaching for an outcome in that research you site at the end of your post. I hate buckthorn for what it is doing to wooded areas around here, let's just get that straight. But for anyone to seriously suggest a nutrient deficit in a plant's foliage when used as wildlife food, simply because it came from another continent originally........is ludicrous.

+oM

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 6:11PM
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sam_md

Following is from N.E. Wildflower Society's Bill Cullina:
Lupinus perennis grows naturally in pine barrens and sandy prairies in the East and is the only food for the larvae of the lovely little Karner Blue Butterfly. A combination of fire supression and habitat loss have made both the Lupine and butterfly less common, and now the Karner Blue is nearly extinct in much of its range. Things have been further complicated by the introduction of the Washington Lupine and its hybrids into New England, where it thrives in the cool climate and is widely naturalized. It readily interbreeds with the native Sundial Lupine, and the resulting offspring are unsuitable hosts for the Karner Blue - in effect the Butterfly's food is being hybridized out of existance in some areas. So common are these L. polyphyllus hybrids that they have become strongly identified with the rigged Maine coast, ...
The following bit is from the link and refers to Exotic Bush Honeysuckles Unlike native shrubs, the fruits of exotic bush honeysuckles are carbohydrate-rich and do not provide migrating birds with the high-fat content needed for long flights. These observations are from field-data collected by researchers from U.S. Fish & Wildlife and Nat'l Park Service.
Does wildlife love English Ivy and Autumn Olive fruits? Sure, the same way kids love cereals high in sugar content.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 8:38PM
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dicot

I am unable to shake the mental image of, "stupid kids ::shakes fist::, get off my park."

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 10:39PM
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wisconsitom

Good information Sam. I may have overstated my case, in arguing the larger point that many exotic species do have the potential to serve as food for various wildlife. I'll say this much: As someone with a long-held love for natural plant communities and with some of man's introductions into these systems, all I want out of these discussions is a thorough reckoning of the many nuances of this issue. BTW, we have had some efforts towards maintaining suitable Karner's Blue habitat in this state, now threatened by a shift in focus by the respective agencies away from such efforts. I'll say no more about that 100% political situation.

I still do maintain though that each non-native species needs to be considered for its own merits. To blindly go about declaring all such species as problems that must be solved through eradication would, I think, do as much damage as is being done by the true problematic species. Further, as more of our natives become imperiled by new pathogenic invaders and new insect pests, it is my opinion that it will come to be seen as desirable to purposely make use of certain non-native plants to fill niches that have been emptied out by the afore-mentioned invaders. Do I know where it will all end? Of course not. Now as always, our job will be to do as best we can with the information at our disposal.

+oM

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 11:00PM
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esh_ga

tom, sorry if I can't keep up! I just thought it warranted more discussion and sam provided some excellent information as a result.

As a native plant advocate, I recognize that it is the invasives that do harm and those are the ones that I talk to people about removing the most. Not only are our southeastern forests and parks infested with some of these things, my neighbors' yards are too - only they think they are landscape plants: asian privets, mahonia bealei, mimosa, English ivy, nandina, and asian wisteria. Those are the plants that I encourage them to eradicate, not their knockout roses, their forsythia, their daylilies and their crape myrtles. People have only so much time and energy (and money) so if we can focus on removing the true invasives we could do a lot of good.

And for what it's worth, when it comes to insects that eat specific types of foliage (again a large percentage of most insects), there are most often not non-native plants that can fill those niches. That is what I worry about, not whether birds can eat non-native berries.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:17AM
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ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)

"I am unable to shake the mental image of, "stupid kids ::shakes fist::, get off my park.""

That's a pretty rude reply not to mention a patent mischaracterization of how I felt. My kids are elementary school age (K and 5th, as well as 11th) and have already gone on similar field trips, and have gone to a local campground to learn about plants and trees. I love that, who wouldn't? My only gripe was ripping out healthy plants. If you want to characterize me as some angry person you would be way off base, laughingly so, but play on player....

Regarding the ripping out of the invasives, if the bamboo was taking over and sucking the life out of other plants trying to make a go of it, then so be it.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:45AM
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mackel_in_dfw

Lovey Sez,

"But play on player"....

Here is a link that might be useful: A Real Player

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 10:51AM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

"Additionally, the by now tiresome yarn about only native species providing anything beyond shelter for wildlife is patently false. Take buckthorn for example: The very means by which it is able to continuously invade hew areas is exactly the result of its palatability to birds. Doesn't mean it's not a scourge-we just have to be honest about how some of this is happening."

The reason buckthorn spreads so readily is because it's a strong cathartic. I'd question how much nutrition a bird is actually getting out of eating berries that make it empty it's bowels across half the county. Being palatable doesn't mean it's nutritous any more than Haitians eating mud cakes might seem palatable because it fills your stomach.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 3:07PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

They all come from somewhere where they are part of an ecosystem that includes animals that benefit from what they offer.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 4:07PM
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calliope(6)

Plants have been moving across the earth since the days of the silk road and before. You bet the existance of a species can depend on specific food and those who depend on it might be slow to modify and adapt. And sadly extinction is not the rare event, it is the norm. Global economy will hasten it exponentially.

Our river system is rife with a gorgeous bloom. Miles of it. Polygonum. Yet it shows up in garden centers. Where it's sale is outlawed we now have the internet where you can get anything you want (in Alice's restaurant of the plant world).

And you can thank the researchers of the very agencies who are providing us data now for the massive and wholesale distribution of crownvetch, Kudzu, multiflora roses and the rabbit population of Australia.

Integrating an awareness of the situation is the proper thing to do with young children but we have economics and political obstacles in our way and I do need to point out that even the honeybee is an import. And there are aren't a lot of pat answers. We impact.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 5:48PM
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rushrulz(TX)

I don't know much about any of this, but IMHO, there's non-native and invasive, and it may be a bit of overkill (literally) to rip out the former when the concern is more with the latter--assuming, of course, the former is not a problem in its own right (in terms of needing a lot of water or pesticides).

As humans, we are forever bending nature to shape our will. There is a greater interest in and desire for native plants, and I gather the native plant store here is doing just fine. But most suburbs are loaded up with plants that are at least not native to this area, if not even the US, because that's just what the standard has been (and in some cases, what the HOAs demand). I'd be more interested in seeing people get rid of their lawns than their non-native flowerbed plants, personally. But as someone without a lawn, it's very easy for me to get on a soapbox about it.

My balcony has a number of non-native plants--on a microcosm level, nothing is actually native to my balcony, LOL, except concrete. Many are not local, like the plumerias. Others are from other countries, like the mandevilla and perhaps a succulent or three. But then I read that mandevillas aren't even found in their original habitat now.

Still, as some note, things move around whether you like it or not. The gecko is now found everywhere in the world, traveling about on ships, and largely fits in nicely wherever it goes. Of course, the Chinese rat flea did the same thing hundreds of years ago and was nowhere near as welcome. :-) Meanwhile, the invasives in Hawaii and Australia destroy ecosystems in a heartbeat.

I guess my two cents about the OP's situation is this: If they were ripping out non-natives that weren't causing any issues on the basis of some philosophy that non-natives are inherently evil and must be destroyed, I think that's a bit messed up. On the other hand, if their goal was to create a native garden (and more or less bill it as such), it's fine. In other words, I'm looking at motive--is it to *destroy* the non-natives or is to *create* natives? For some reason, that matters to me.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 6:46PM
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