In less than a week I saw both extremes - the mere mention that the huge funds, concern and effort being put into natives may be less than wise followed immediately by .... welll .... I'm just gonna say "hate" .... or maybe "silent anger" would be a better fit. On the other end of the spectrum I saw a presentation about Fukuoka and how he did not sign up for the natives package.
toby hemenway regularly makes his stand about how the natives movement does not align with his philosophies.
The key is at what point do you draw the line and say everything before that time is native and everything after the other time is invasive. Nearly everything that is considered to be native was, at some, the invasive.
Plus, what about food. If folks are so passionate about planting only natives in their area, then are they only going to eat native foods?
I think it is great when folks have their own garden and it is all natives from a particular era. What bugs me is when they passionately insist that I must limit what I grow on my land to natives.
I suspect this entire issue is a personification of human fears and anxieties. Who should be allowed to come into your neighborhood? Who should be allowed to marry into your family? Is this the land of the Native Americans or should others be allowed? What happens if those others come in such numbers that they create a new majority and start changing things? Is that wrong/unfair/a crime/endangerment of a species? This is a question central to every issue from the Middle East problem to Northern Ireland to India-Pakistan to... you name it.
Somehow our plants have become proxies in this emotional and philosophical controversy and the issue has become electrified. The only hope maybe is to see it for what it is.
We have so many people who think their way is the only way. And add to that a bunch of hypocrites who plant only natives on their property, and yet buy 98% of their food from other sources.
It would be nice to draw the line at massive damage, but even that isn't going to happen anytime soon (never, if Monsanto has it's way).
Just like with some Permies, the way some people follow a doctrine or method of growing becomes a religion. Like religion, it becomes an all-or-nothing issue. If you don't do it my way, you're doing it wrong. If you're doing it wrong, you should be killed.
You see it in a lot of beliefs. Just nod your head and go your own way. You don't need to beat other people over the head with the PDM, and they don't need to insist that everything you grow has white flowers and starts with E.
I try to avoid plants that are proven to be pushing out or endangering native species or habitats, unfortunately, some of those plants are actually really good food. But I don't intend to go to jail for having them so I'll leave it at that.
My rule about what to plant on my land has far more to do with usefulness than anything else. I refuse to put money, water, fertilizer, care, or other effort into any plants that don't give me something in return. Food, shade, soil improvement, mulch, materials, pest management, medicines, privacy etc. If the plant is not immediately providing food, I often require it to give more than one thing (like a privacy hedge must also provide soil improvement and mulch materials) or (pest management plants should also be pretty or smell good or be a good spice.) I'm still new at this and improving my little lot on a budget so sometimes the Benefit is the plant is free and fast growing and once the better choice can be gotten the free fast growing one will be come mulch.
Natives, well it can be hard to know what is native in Florida since the first explorers and settlers introduced lots of things that naturalized before anyone new it.
they will diss a banana..as not native..but will go ga ga about peppers and tomatos..
I suspect this entire issue is a personification of human fears and anxieties. Who should be allowed to come into your neighborhood? Who should be allowed to marry into your family? ...
That's interesting but I think it's worse than just personifying human fears and anxieties. I see labeling certain species as invasive (and going to such absurd extremes as spraying pesticides in the name of conservation) as a political attempt to displace blame instead of taking responsibility for ecological degradation. Our ecosystems have changed so greatly in so little time diversity has been negatively affected. We are responsible for this, not some species of plants that is changing the ecosystem in a way we do not like. They only come later, after the diversity has been wiped out by us.
I see the same issue with outbreaks of plant diseases and pests. Mollison called this the "Phasmid Conspiracy," placing blame on some symptoms of ecological degradation instead of the root cause:
[quote author=Mollison]What I think we are looking at is a carcass. The forest is a dying system on which the decomposers are beginning to feed. If you know forests very well, you know that you can go out this morning and strike a tree with an axe. That's it. Or touch it with the edge of a bulldozer, or bump it with your car. Then, if you sit patiently by that tree, within three days you will see that maybe twenty insects and other decomposers and "pests" have visited the injury. The tree is already doomed. What attracts them is the smell from the dying tree. We have noticed that in Australia. Just injure trees to see what happens. The phasmids come. The phasmid detects the smell of this. The tree has become its food tree, and it comes to feed.
So insects are not the cause of the death of forests. The cause of the death of forests is multiple insult. We point to some bug and say: "That bug did it." It is much better if you can blame somebody else. You all know that. So we blame the bug. It is a conspiracy, really, to blame the bugs. But the real reason the trees are failing is that there have been profound changes in the amount of light penetrating the forest, in pollutants, and in acid rain fallout. People, not bugs, are killing the forests.
This is from the PDC pamphlets at http://www.barkingfrogspermaculture.org/PDC_ALL.pdf
Kudzu is an interesting example. In Asia it's cultivated for medicinal and edible use. It also fixes nitrogen and its starchy root is a great source for ethanol. Maybe kudzu is more of a blessing and we just don't know how to (or don't want to) see this? Some more ideas for its use within a framework of permaculture are at http://www.barkingfrogspermaculture.org/kudzu.pdf
A non-native plant can be invasive or not invasive.
A native plant can also be invasive, although I suppose we just call it "pervasive" or "monoculture".
We are responsible for this, not some species of plants that is changing the ecosystem in a way we do not like. They only come later, after the diversity has been wiped out by us.
the question isn't neccesarily wether an 'invasive' has some uses. it is what plants and their uses have we lost or will we due to it?
I suppose its a chicken or the egg thing. but the quote I left up their seems to be a bit incompatable with itself. it is pretty well documented that the humans are responsible because of the introduction of non native species. especially in the animal kingdom where species have been introduced both purposely and accidentally that out compete native species in a delicatley balanced ecosystem. and when one portion of the chain is broken it affects the whole system. hawaii and australia are great examples. I'm not interested neccessarily in what permaculture has to say about this. I refuse to accept dogma from any source if it doesn 't pass the bs test in my own brain. I'm afraid in some instances permaculture is a fancy name for the same ol destructive practices with a veil of good intentions.
Within your garden, your own carefully tailored ecosystem, you need to have the maximum amount of biodiversity to make the system stable. Don't forget you are making an artificial assembly of plants, the ultimately function of which is to support you, to feed you. How could you decimate your plant lists by only planting species native to your area? Are you native to your wild ecosystem too?
Don't sweat it. Work on your garden, and if you want to enjoy a wild environment, just look over your garden hedge (Vitis labrusca [USA], Actinidia deliciosa [China] supported on a Corylus avellana [UK] x Corylus americana [USA]).
When you do see some invasive running amok, its usually where someone has cut down most of the vegetation to make way for a road. Ultimately the natives will prevail.
We also talk about compost tea. Especially when it is of value and when it is not.
Helen talks about her horticultural philosophy which she calls veganic permaculture.
Helen and I then explore the space of veganism in general.
We also talk about how some native plants people stand against permaculture.
As a side note, the oldest known relic of non American origin to be found on the N. American continent is an anchor believed to be of Viet Namese origin. It pre-dates the Vikings by several centuries. It was found near Palos Verdes in southern California.
I agree with you all. Before I really educated myself on the matter i was all about having only native species, but i think that is due to what i now see as a misinformation campaign, but people who have co-opted the topic for political or some other means.
The best reason I ever heard was that plants unlike animals all but extremely rarely prey on anything. Plants might occupy a niche but that very rarely will displace every niche of a native plant. The explanation i heard this on said that a plant has never caused another plant to go extinct. Introducing say a ferret or a disease or a python might kill all the rodents or chestnusts, but plants 99.99 percent of the time will eventually peacefully coexist.
Our modern society has afforded us the abilty to build extremely functional and practical agroforestry food forests and we should take every advantage of it. these polycultures should be monoculture wherever there are humans.
i liked the point about native peoples annual gardens. tomatos and what not ... lol dont take their tomatoes! eat paw paw lol
I look at a modern corn field and it is beautiful, but it is also full of chemicals and I just *KNOW* that there are no earthworms, and that there is a disrupted chain of life. Then, I look at my own garden that is rather a tangle but it is ALSO full of edibles and you cannot stick a trowel into the ground without seeing an earthworm.
Yes, I have planted a lot of native plums by the creek. That area seems to WANT to grow natives, and I should argue because?? OK. Instead of fussing over Italian prune-plums that might be delicate and need water carried in, I planted American plums that ought to be able to take care of themselves once they are established. Both are tasty, and since virtually every plant I have identified on that land is a native, so be it!
I MIGHT try some winter wheat out there this Fall if I think of it. But, for now, I planted natives (and asparagus, I am not really a purist) simply because there seem to be no volenteer non-natives. It is surrounded by imported plants and lawns, but I do not see ANY non-natives there!
My back yard, on the other hand grows non-natives with the greatest of ease. So, I am planting rhubarb, blueberries, cucumbers, other garden vegetables there.
I am not a purist. I simply want to raise LOADS and LOADS of sprarklingly fresh produce. And, I can no longer use teh traditional gardening techniques.
I suppose that people who get upset about about what is and is not native must care more about philosophy than I do. But, as much as I adored the books by Masanobu Fukuoka- and I have read all 4- the bottom line for me is healthy land that produces gobs and gobs of food!
There aren't very many natives I would choose to make the bulk of my diet. They tend to taste yucky.
H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I think we can be prudent about where we choose to grow natives and where we choose to grow non-natives. For instance, we might should probably grow any kind of invasive non-native close to the house where we can keep an eye on it rather than off in the bush where it can escape. Can common sense (so-called) prevail, perhaps?
There aren't very many natives I would choose to make the bulk of my diet. They tend to taste yucky.
its a good idea but im not sure if its really practical. food plants are bound to be carried off by animals and the seeds probably go with them.
H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Might choose not to grow those that might escape, then, maybe?
yea that would be the solution. its just that i dont see it as a big deal anymore. i'm open to changing that opinion again but it just seems to me that the more diversity the better when it comes to plants. i'm not native here, still dont plan on digging up my roots. :p
H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I guess I wonder if the native plants people complain about the vast grain monoculture in the US which has wiped out 99% of an ecosystem (prairies). Or if they only complain about permaculture, which hasn't wiped out much of any ecosystems.
Personally, I am putting in edible natives into my orchard, because I researched it well; and still am. I thought using natives, not being insane about it, but using them was part of that whole second ethic of permaculture.
I am actually glad I have been learning about them, I found 3 large huckleberry bushes on the property a few days ago, without that for knowledge they would possibly be woody compost someday. More importantly, I have something that will attract birds and insects to keep problems down to a minimum on the property.
To exclude seems foolish, to include fully seems equally as foolish. Balance is needed.
From what I have learned in my permaculture & nature studies, The Earth has it's own plan and we are just along for the ride, and "if" we are aware enough, have the opportunity to look, listen and learn from the beautiful symbiotic orchestra that exists around us in its vast abundance *admittedly, that was a bit over the top, but it's how I feel*
they say that our area used to be this, and then became that, and now is this..but is changing to that with global warming..
so who is to say..if we once were tropical, then glaceir, and then flood, and then temperate ??
taking care of as many of your own needs is the place to start.
as far as natives vs "others"
IMHP, i think a good way of looking at it is "current residents"
what is living here now.
are you happy with the current mix of plants and animals?
substituting analogs tend to create less distrubance, selecting a "named " variety for an existing wild type such as walnuts, juneberries, apples, blackberries, grapes etc.
introducing something different, such as sea buckhorn or kudzu, or something old there is no longer there (such as wolves) is going to change the balance
it's this "change" that needs to be thought about
where I grew up in north central washington the common understanding about knap weed is that it was brought in and planted so the deer would have more to eat in the winter. which seems utterly obtuse to us now! the deer in okanogan county don't seem to like.
the himalayan blackberries growing in my backyard are invasive (technically), but the birds and bunnies that live under the brambles don't mind. the coyotes that patrol the edges to get dinner don't mind. the birds and bears that eat the berries don't mind. The bushes grow right along the edges of the sunny side of the woods.....What better defense to keep the most invasive creature out of the woods...Humans.
The problem starts with people trying to control nature. Are you going to force nature to do what you want -or- will you leave nature to itself and reap what it gives you.
native plants don't NEED our help, Nature does not NEED our help.
in general the non natives in our gardens cannot survive outside our sunny yards and green houses. in most cases we are beating back the "natives" to keep our foot hold just within 10 yards of our homes. if we leave the native alone they win every time.
in the winter many fresh vegetables and fruit at the store come from south america...mostly Chili and Ecuador. IF.....americans preserved lots of there own locally grown fruit and veggies and ate that through the winter and spring rather than purchasing Fresh at the store, This would cause a huge ripple all the way to South America. Large sections of deforested Land would be claimed back by the rain forest with in Months of the SA farmers shutting down production.