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Removing Invasives in Public Places

 
master pollinator
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SpikyFellow


Looks like one of the thistles. If they start to take over... Hungry?

OtherPlantsInWoodchips


I'm not very familiar with the family, but maybe a mallow?

UnknownGroundcover


Wild guesses... Something like english ivy? Maybe one of the decorative groundcovers related to sweet potatoes?

PurpleFlowerClimbingPampas


Maybe American Vetch ?
 
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The spikey plant is a thistle in the genus Carduus, the tall plant with lavender-colored flowers is tall mallow from the genus Malva. Thistles are interesting. They are an extremely early succession forb that makes copper and iron available to other plants. Mallow is edible and medicinal, but of course don’t take my word for it. If mallow grows in a soil with high levels of nitrates especially artificially added nitrates, they will concentrate in the leaves, and can be poisonous. So it seems that mallow could help take up leached fertilizer?
 
Myron Platte
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Agreed on the ivy.
 
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I had suspected it was English Ivy - it's also known for being invasive around here! It offers more wildlife value than pampas grass thanks to it's edible berries, but those same berries facilitate the ability of birds to spread it around. Perhaps I'll go rip it out and plant some native shade plants....it's definitely easier to remove from the ground than pampas grass.
 
Myron Platte
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I bet it’s a good mulch, anyway.
 
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Spiky fellow is Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense, also known as Canadian (or Californian) Thistle, and scores of richly Anglo-Saxon epithets. It's from Eurasia and is truly nasty...once it's in pasture you will be spending years playing whack-a-mole trying to get rid of it. One plant pops up, you grub it out, and then a month later 10 m away in every direction you have new emergents from lateral roots. Farmers in NZ despise the stuff because of the way it takes over pasture and even if there's good feed around a clump of it the stock won't stick their faces in there.

Ground cover is English (really Algerian) ivy Hedera helix. You want that gone, with prejudice, because as soon as it reaches a tree it will climb it and kill it by a combination of smothering and using its clinging roots to get into the cambium for a free lunch. Be careful if you plan to burn the stuff you remove, because the smoke is toxic.

I'm cool with lots of weeds and appreciate their function as well as the futility of trying to eradicate them. But there are some I will not have around me and these are two of them. Same with pampas grass, so I'm cheering you on from across the ocean.
 
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Myron Platte wrote:

Paul Eusey wrote:
This invasion is not a “symptom” of soil condition issues.



What makes you think that? If it's not a symptom of problems with the soil, it's a symptom of predator deficiency. If not an herbivore, than a bug or disease. If it puts off almost anything that tries to eat it, it's probably a pioneer, facilitating good soil conditions for the ecosystem to get to the next stage, in spite of even roaming goats. Very few plants can stand up to goats. Everything has a purpose.



I live in California Myron, I have been all up and down the west coast and have seen it with my own eyes. It’s an imported invasive perennial grass on steroids that got loose and is causing problems. It takes root anywhere it can, in all soil conditions, and in places where people cannot go (virgin soils, where no human can set foot). Yes, it also grows in disturbed areas and has an easier time taking root in them, but it is by no means a symptom of soil conditions. It just happens to be tough enough to withstand the salt and wind on the coast. This plant also stands up to goats and deer, especially if they like having a tongue (razor sharp blades).

Invasive plants and animals are never a symptom of anything other than being released in the wrong place. They are what causes the imbalance in nature and they don’t belong. Everything has a place “AND” a purpose. Put something in the wrong place and it loses the purpose and is about as useful as a lighthouse in Nebraska.

Hope that helps.
 
Paul Eusey
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Myron Platte wrote:

the tall plant with lavender-colored flowers is tall mallow from the genus Malva.

Mallow is edible and medicinal, but of course don’t take my word for it. If mallow grows in a soil with high levels of nitrates especially artificially added nitrates, they will concentrate in the leaves, and can be poisonous. So it seems that mallow could help take up leached fertilizer?



The Mallow is a cool edible (never heard of the nitrates issue, but I agree with you on principle Myron... I don’t forage any wild edibles where commercial Ag chemicals have been used for reasons exactly like this).

Here are a few links to info on Mallow (includes cool edible uses for the plant, some of which I will be trying in the near future).

https://www.ediblewildfood.com/mallow.aspx


https://www.foragesf.com/blog/2019/5/1/mallow-youve-gotta-try-any-plant-that-has-a-cheese-wheel


https://www.wildfooduk.com/edible-wild-plants/mallow/
 
Myron Platte
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Paul Eusey wrote:

Myron Platte wrote:

Paul Eusey wrote:
This invasion is not a “symptom” of soil condition issues.



What makes you think that? If it's not a symptom of problems with the soil, it's a symptom of predator deficiency. If not an herbivore, than a bug or disease. If it puts off almost anything that tries to eat it, it's probably a pioneer, facilitating good soil conditions for the ecosystem to get to the next stage, in spite of even roaming goats. Very few plants can stand up to goats. Everything has a purpose.



I live in California Myron, I have been all up and down the west coast and have seen it with my own eyes. It’s an imported invasive perennial grass on steroids that got loose and is causing problems. It takes root anywhere it can, in all soil conditions, and in places where people cannot go (virgin soils, where no human can set foot). Yes, it also grows in disturbed areas and has an easier time taking root in them, but it is by no means a symptom of soil conditions. It just happens to be tough enough to withstand the salt and wind on the coast. This plant also stands up to goats and deer, especially if they like having a tongue (razor sharp blades).

Invasive plants and animals are never a symptom of anything other than being released in the wrong place. They are what causes the imbalance in nature and they don’t belong. Everything has a place “AND” a purpose. Put something in the wrong place and it loses the purpose and is about as useful as a lighthouse in Nebraska.

Hope that helps.


What is different about it's native range that makes it balanced there?
 
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Always check several sources to become familiar with a plant and it’s uses, and to make sure you have an accurate ID before eating anything....also never trust what just one person is telling you....

The spiny purple plant is thistle. You’d have to look it up, but I believe you can eat the stalks at one stage of development if you strip the spines...but that seems a little too dangerous.

The tall purple flower plant is mallow. Mallow is an edible and has Mucilligen(I don’t think I’m spelling that right) in it, like okra. Soothes and coats the digestive tract. The little seed packets that form after the flowers they call “cheeses.” I guess because they look like little cheese wheels. They’re a little nibble snack that tastes kinda nutty. You should find all the different stages of flower development on the plant and the green seed head is what you’re looking for. You can also decoct the dried roots and eat the leaves. Young leaves are good raw.

In the same photo I see a very yellow miners lettuce (claytonia). Probably due to growing in the wood chips with its shallow root system. While I wouldn’t eat that one, you should look around for more. They reseed like crazy and are one of my favorite wild edibles. They’re so mild and succulent; a perfect salad green. You can eat all of the leaves and stems at any stage, but when a stem is full of maturing seeds... you might want to skip those.

The green vine is English ivy. Take some ivy cuttings (one foot pieces of vine), strip all leaves except 1-2 at the top and stick in some water. Roots will grow from the leaf nodes and you can pot a few up together and sell them for indoor or outdoor plants.

And Myron was spot on with the vetch.

What I like to do with invasives is eat them if possible!! I don’t think your grass is edible though. But I love the idea of letting it be the nurse plant for things that are. Good luck planting your seeds!
 
Myron Platte
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How’s it going, Marek? Any news?
 
Malek Ascha
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Myron Platte wrote:How’s it going, Marek? Any news?



Malek*

Nothing much to report. I'm only going to plant a small amount of wildflowers although I have a lot of seeds now - gotta wait til fall for it to be effective, as I've found out.

I ordered some fruit tree seeds to try planting in pampas. In June pluots, plums, and apricots will be in season here. I know from experience that there are a ton of varieties available around that time. I'll plan to buy a wide variety at farmers markets, then plant the pits in various pampas plants. My idea is that a lot of the ones I plant probably won't sprout until next spring - probably some will sprout and then die of thirst as summer goes on. I'll just keep planting more over time so that eventually the hardiest one for this area is selected.

I've also found more info about English Ivy. The California Conservation Corps removes it in state parks - they rip it out of the ground, then put it in bags to take away. I reckon I'll try just ripping it out and then leaving it on the ground. Again, I won't be planting much in its place until fall. I've identified a few places where it's starting to climb up the trees and choke them.
 
Malek Ascha
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Today I went and pulled some English Ivy. I found an area with some trees that was completely dominated by ivy - it covered the ground and was climbing all the trees. I removed it from as many as I could. It literally was growing roots into the trees - this stuff is aggressive! There were a few where I was only able to remove the ivy around the base of the tree. Hopefully the stuff higher up will die, but maybe it'll leech enough nutrients out of the tree to stay alive. Not much I can do about it.

This area was by a road, and it looked like the trees had branches cut at several points and then thrown into a pile. There are massive piles of wood chips all around. I smelled some nasty fungus type smells as I was pulling the ivy down from the trees. One tree was covered in white spots - I read the English Ivy makes trees a lot more susceptible to disease, so maybe something's wrong with it. I think some of the trees were eucalyptus, which is also invasive. I'm not sure though.

I found some other invasive species lurking about. This area is really riddled with them. The city does the bare minimum to maintain a lot of the land between roadways - they just cut back growth whenever it gets into the street. Otherwise it runs wild. California Invasive Plant Council has an excellent directory of invasive plants. I'm excited to start planting some native competition.

Bonus video of ivy pulling action!



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Malek Ascha wrote:Today I went and pulled some English Ivy. I found an area with some trees that was completely dominated by ivy - it covered the ground and was climbing all the trees. I removed it from as many as I could. It literally was growing roots into the trees - this stuff is aggressive! There were a few where I was only able to remove the ivy around the base of the tree. Hopefully the stuff higher up will die, but maybe it'll leech enough nutrients out of the tree to stay alive. Not much I can do about it.

This area was by a road, and it looked like the trees had branches cut at several points and then thrown into a pile. There are massive piles of wood chips all around. I smelled some nasty fungus type smells as I was pulling the ivy down from the trees. One tree was covered in white spots - I read the English Ivy makes trees a lot more susceptible to disease, so maybe something's wrong with it. I think some of the trees were eucalyptus, which is also invasive. I'm not sure though.

I found some other invasive species lurking about. This area is really riddled with them. The city does the bare minimum to maintain a lot of the land between roadways - they just cut back growth whenever it gets into the street. Otherwise it runs wild. California Invasive Plant Council has an excellent directory of invasive plants. I'm excited to start planting some native competition.



The red berry plant looks like willow leafed cotoneaster.  From the berries, it is part of the rosaceae family and this would fit.  Sorry about the eucalypts, it is one of our not so good exports but it is good firewood and makes beautiful furniture.  There is a plant with a purple flower and spikes, is a  thistle (as we call it down under) and the seeds blow on the wind for miles. Just knock it completely out just below the ground and it is really good mulch because of its deep tap root. The white spots look like the same as we have on our tree.  It is a plate lichen but not yet fully mature and they grow on the resin secreted from the tree.  Mallow seeds are edible like a snack when green and I often eat them when in the garden.  I cannot see any in the pictures.  The stuff with the tiny purple flowers has a tap root, a bit like a parsnip but I have not tried to eat this.  I agree with Phil on the ivy.  It grew into a neighbours roof space some years ago and collapsed the ceilings  Not good at all.  Grub it out until it gives up.  Stack on a hard surface or it will take root again.
 
Myron Platte
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If you plan on removing the scotch broom, know that it is a pioneer nitrogen fixer, and it will need to be replaced with something else that fulfills the same function. I searched pfaf for nitrogen fixing pioneers that can tolerate maritime exposure and grow in your climate zone. The list is surprisingly short:
https://pfaf.org/user/DatabaseSearhResult.aspx
 
Malek Ascha
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I finally got enough seeds to go out and plant. I got plum tree seeds of unknown pedigree from a tree in Oakland - these are from last season. I got Southern Live Oak and Coastal Live Oak acorns from Carmel - collected from the ground fresh for me. And I got some American plum seeds. There are two types of seed sellers on Etsy - people gathering it directly, and people who order from other stores and send it on.

Overall there are approximately 80 plum seeds and 180 acorns. Most of the plantings are on hillsides. Pampas grass really thrives there, since it's native environment is mountainsides. I'm also trying to avoid planting near roads, buildings, and power lines, to lower the chance the tree clashes with it and gets cut down.

The main hypothesis behind this is that pampas grass will provide a good germination environment for the tree seeds. I've observed this in the area multiple times - there are photos in previous posts, and I've included one of a several years old pine tree growing straight out of a pampas grass cluster. The base of pampas grass has a lot of mulch, since the leaves never get eaten. The leaves radiate out from the center and droop over the side, allowing a lot of light into the base of the plant. This means that a young tree does not have to grow that tall before it would be getting light when growing inside the pampas plant. The tree would not have any competition other than the pampas plant itself, and this experiment will determine if it can overcome that.

Pampas grass doesn't actually compete that well with other grasses when they are growing in close proximity to each other. However, it gets established in disturbed soil much quicker than other grasses. As the plant grows older, it builds a layer of mulch around itself as the leaves are never grazed. This mulch prevents competition from growing, and contributes a lot to fire risk. I included a photo of a group of pampas plants that had built up a super thick layer of dead dry leaves around themselves. They were very healthy! I planted some seeds in them.

I used a variety of planting styles. For some, I shoved the seed into the center of the plant through the mulch. For others, I made a hole in the plant center with my seed dibber and put the seed in. I also tried making holes on the side of the base of the plant and putting the seed there. For control groups, I planted seeds near the plants on bare dirt. We'll see which does better. No video of the planting, because it's hard to do with one hand.

I'm less convinced now that there's any point to actively cutting down the pampas plants - they have to have other plants competing with them. The plants I cut a week ago are already showing new growth. There's already healthy debate between the San Francisco parks departments and various citizen groups about whether invasives should be removed at all. I think that people don't like the idea of destroying any plant for the sake of destroying it. Planting seeds is a much easier sell.

The only inputs here will be getting the seeds and planting them. I don't intend to do maintenance. The advantage of growing from seed is that, hopefully, one of them will be well suited to the area and do well.

This experiment will take years to conclude. I don't expect any of the seeds to germinate before the fall, and any that do will probably die. I'm just going to keep planting wherever I see the appropriate space for it.
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Phil Stevens wrote:Spiky fellow is Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense, also known as Canadian (or Californian) Thistle, and scores of richly Anglo-Saxon epithets. It's from Eurasia and is truly nasty...once it's in pasture you will be spending years playing whack-a-mole trying to get rid of it. One plant pops up, you grub it out, and then a month later 10 m away in every direction you have new emergents from lateral roots.



Came here to say this ^^. That purple spiky fellow is Cirsium arvense, notorious as an invasive in its own right.
 
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I agree with Myron and the Pauls. Trees shading them out are the best and lowest labor long term solution. I also agree the orange berries look like cotoneaster, which birds do like to eat (and then spread). Pampas grass is one of the few plants I will not abide, despite its organic matter accumulation (english ivy and scotch broom being the others). I got it out of my old property by cutting the crown off just below surface, smothering the area with cardboard, and then extending the chicken run to encompass it and they seemed to take out any young shoots. I also built a 3ft hugel on top of a spot where I removed a clump and saw no regrowth. The main key is to remove its light/energy source. Any plant will die without light. In a public place it’d take permission to put down cardboard or other sheet mulch, but native trees would likely be welcomed. If you are in the redwood range, that is an almost unkillable plant once established, and it creates more shade than anything.
 
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Rebecca Norman wrote:My most noxious weed two years ago was puncturevine, aka goatshead thorn, Tribulis terrestris. That year, I collected all the puncturevines in my land, and I actually pressure cooked them, and then composted them. I had almost none appearing last summer, so I think the seeds are vulnerable and short lived.

The seeds can last up to 20 years in the soil, so keep an eye out for it. It's pretty much gone from my yard after a long drawn out battle, but I still find one or two a year.
 
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Myron Platte wrote:If you plan on removing the scotch broom, know that it is a pioneer nitrogen fixer, and it will need to be replaced with something else that fulfills the same function. I searched pfaf for nitrogen fixing pioneers that can tolerate maritime exposure and grow in your climate zone. The list is surprisingly short:
https://pfaf.org/user/DatabaseSearhResult.aspx



I would definitely axe the scotch broom. It has decimated our sand dunes up the coast in southern Oregon.  It also has been shown to alter soil chemistry to make it harder for other plants (especially natives) to establish.  Its seeds can last for 80 years, making it nearly impossible to fully eradicate. Around here, the native coastal nitrogen fixers are primarily lupine species, though I do see trifolium wormskioldi growing on the beach at a few parks, but it is not common.  There are species of ceonothus that grow on the coast.
Deerr vetch and mountain goldbanner occasionally show up near the coast as well.
 
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I would be nervous about removing or killing invasives in a public space without checking with the company or branch of government that cares for that place.  Where I live, invasives are often used for erosion control and to help protect new forests while they establish themselves.  

However, the parks department has habitation restoration parties where they target specific invasives.  What they won't tell you is that the reason why they don't eradicate all of them, is the invasives are often protecting endangered plants.  There's one place in a park where it's the last survivor of an almost extinct plant.  Very last of that plant in all the world!  It used to be plentiful and a big part of the local ecosystem.  It's very close to where humans go (about 3 feet from a may throughway) and the plant itself would be worth about 20 thousand dollars if harvested for medicine.  They cannot put a big sign saying "don't harvest this plant" because it would be gone in an hour.  They use ugly and invasive plants to prevent your average human from knowing it is there.  It was almost lost a few years back when someone decided to be "helpful" by removing the "invasives" without the consent or consultation of the local authority.  They trampled it really badly.  

When the plant is strong enough, they will attempt to breed it, but they know from other versions of this plant that it cannot survive transplanting.  It needs to live in situ.  If they can propagate it, they feel it should be able to solve a big problem with cancer treatment.  

It's good to work with local parks and naturalists when deciding where to remove "invasives"
 
Myron Platte
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Jonathan Baldwerm wrote:

Myron Platte wrote:If you plan on removing the scotch broom, know that it is a pioneer nitrogen fixer, and it will need to be replaced with something else that fulfills the same function. I searched pfaf for nitrogen fixing pioneers that can tolerate maritime exposure and grow in your climate zone. The list is surprisingly short:
https://pfaf.org/user/DatabaseSearhResult.aspx



I would definitely axe the scotch broom. It has decimated our sand dunes up the coast in southern Oregon.  It also has been shown to alter soil chemistry to make it harder for other plants (especially natives) to establish.  Its seeds can last for 80 years, making it nearly impossible to fully eradicate. Around here, the native coastal nitrogen fixers are primarily lupine species, though I do see trifolium wormskioldi growing on the beach at a few parks, but it is not common.  There are species of ceonothus that grow on the coast.
Deerr vetch and mountain goldbanner occasionally show up near the coast as well.


Scotch broom is a pioneer. First it dominates an area, then dies off when conditions are less favorable. Left to itself, a field of scotch broom will progress to a forest. Bushy nitrogen fixers are essential to succession.
 
Lauren Ritz
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r ranson wrote:When the plant is strong enough, they will attempt to breed it, but they know from other versions of this plant that it cannot survive transplanting.  It needs to live in situ.  If they can propagate it, they feel it should be able to solve a big problem with cancer treatment.  

If they were really serious about this plant they would be doing tissue cultures and other forms of vegetative propagation. It's not all that complicated.
 
r ranson
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Lauren Ritz wrote:

r ranson wrote:When the plant is strong enough, they will attempt to breed it, but they know from other versions of this plant that it cannot survive transplanting.  It needs to live in situ.  If they can propagate it, they feel it should be able to solve a big problem with cancer treatment.  

If they were really serious about this plant they would be doing tissue cultures and other forms of vegetative propagation. It's not all that complicated.



They are and have been for over a decade.  Without much success.  There are a few universities studying it.  The thing is, it grows very slowly, sometimes only a couple of mm per year.  So the amount of tissue they can take from it is tiny.  

It's a culturally, medically, and ecologically significant plant.  One of the big reasons why it's so important is that it's not reacting like a normal plant.  

The point isn't about this one plant.  The point is that there are larger ecological issues to consider when removing plants from public spaces.  Erosion control, ecological projects, scientific experiments, other issues.  It's a good idea to consult local naturalists or the authorities charged with the care of that land before taking matters into your own hands as it can do a huge amount of damage when you are trying to do good.

It may be there are areas where putting your energy would be a huge benefit to the ecology of the area.  Thus the invasive removal parties we have here where people volunteer to remove invasives under the guidance of the parks departments.  A little bit of time will make a massive difference instead of being self-guided and wasting energy like trying to dehydrate the sea with a salt shaker.  

 
Malek Ascha
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R, you're 100% right that there are restoration efforts underway in various parks. I'm not revealing any locations, but none of the places I've been looking at are within one of the various park agencies managing land around here, of which there are several. Anything I do in those areas would probably be more harmful than helpful. I've been focused on patches of land growing wild between roads or housing developments.

It likely would be beneficial to talk to a local expert, although I'm not sure where to start. I've been operating with the idea that putting more native plants into unkept areas will in general create benefit for local wildlife. A lot of these areas don't get maintained in any way other than cutting back growth when it reaches roads and police sweeping through to oust homeless people.

I've also learned as I research this that there are levels of invasiveness, and a lighter touch is generally better. At this point the only invasive I would actively remove through pulling is English Ivy, because I can clearly see it killing shade areas and trees.

Honestly R, I agree with a lot of what you're saying. Misguided idealists tend to be ineffective at best. I'm focusing on these unkempt areas because if there's already a blanket of ivy or pampas grass preventing anything else from growing on 500 sq ft near a random road, I doubt I can make it much worse!
 
Jonathan Baldwerm
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Myron Platte wrote:

Jonathan Baldwerm wrote:

Myron Platte wrote:If you plan on removing the scotch broom, know that it is a pioneer nitrogen fixer, and it will need to be replaced with something else that fulfills the same function. I searched pfaf for nitrogen fixing pioneers that can tolerate maritime exposure and grow in your climate zone. The list is surprisingly short:
https://pfaf.org/user/DatabaseSearhResult.aspx



I would definitely axe the scotch broom. It has decimated our sand dunes up the coast in southern Oregon.  It also has been shown to alter soil chemistry to make it harder for other plants (especially natives) to establish.  Its seeds can last for 80 years, making it nearly impossible to fully eradicate. Around here, the native coastal nitrogen fixers are primarily lupine species, though I do see trifolium wormskioldi growing on the beach at a few parks, but it is not common.  There are species of ceonothus that grow on the coast.
Deerr vetch and mountain goldbanner occasionally show up near the coast as well.


Scotch broom is a pioneer. First it dominates an area, then dies off when conditions are less favorable. Left to itself, a field of scotch broom will progress to a forest. Bushy nitrogen fixers are essential to succession.



That might be true for inland places, not so much on the coast.  We are a disturbance based environment, so scotch broom always dominates. The little islands of scrubby trees in the dunes don't shade it out particularly well, and are themselves not very long lived in the harsh environment.

Just south of me its cousin, gorse, has taken over all the dunes.  If you search gorse in bandon, you get lovely photos of yellow flowered spiky plants covering hundreds of square miles of dunes.  It has been there for over 100 years now, and nothing has shaded it out yet.
 
Paul Fookes
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Myron Platte wrote:

Jonathan Baldwerm wrote:

Myron Platte wrote:If you plan on removing the scotch broom, know that it is a pioneer nitrogen fixer, and it will need to be replaced with something else that fulfills the same function. I searched pfaf for nitrogen fixing pioneers that can tolerate maritime exposure and grow in your climate zone. The list is surprisingly short: https://pfaf.org/user/DatabaseSearhResult.aspx  Scotch broom is a pioneer. First it dominates an area, then dies off when conditions are less favorable. Left to itself, a field of scotch broom will progress to a forest. Bushy nitrogen fixers are essential to succession.




We have a similarly fabulous weed here in  central NSW.  It is biddy bush, sifton bush or Chinese shrub (Cassinia arculata).  Sifton bush is able to grow on naturally infertile, rocky, acidic country. Its native distribution occurs across most of NSW, but it is most problematic in the regions of Central NSW, the Southern Tablelands, the eastern Riverina and the New England North West. It has become a weed of disturbed areas such as graded roadsides, cleared and ploughed areas, and degraded native pastures.(https://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Details/253) We have encouraged it by not managing it in areas we are not using.  It is now, 40 years later being replaced by native grasses, acacia spectabilis (Mudgee Wattle) which is a leguminous short lived tree and of late, eucalypts.  Nature in its inimitable style has returned our overworked horrid compacted land to its natural state of woody box grasslands.  There are large tracts of the sifton bush have now died off and are mulch for the grasses.  There is also a fabulous mycology structure to support the big trees.

My advice based on observation is to leave the intermediate stabilisers in place but get rid of things such as Ivy which will kill off the trees.  As Raven says, just check that if the weeds are not on your land, check with the owner(s).  
 
Myron Platte
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Jonathan Baldwerm wrote:

Myron Platte wrote:

Jonathan Baldwerm wrote:

Myron Platte wrote:If you plan on removing the scotch broom, know that it is a pioneer nitrogen fixer, and it will need to be replaced with something else that fulfills the same function. I searched pfaf for nitrogen fixing pioneers that can tolerate maritime exposure and grow in your climate zone. The list is surprisingly short:
https://pfaf.org/user/DatabaseSearhResult.aspx



I would definitely axe the scotch broom. It has decimated our sand dunes up the coast in southern Oregon.  It also has been shown to alter soil chemistry to make it harder for other plants (especially natives) to establish.  Its seeds can last for 80 years, making it nearly impossible to fully eradicate. Around here, the native coastal nitrogen fixers are primarily lupine species, though I do see trifolium wormskioldi growing on the beach at a few parks, but it is not common.  There are species of ceonothus that grow on the coast.
Deerr vetch and mountain goldbanner occasionally show up near the coast as well.


Scotch broom is a pioneer. First it dominates an area, then dies off when conditions are less favorable. Left to itself, a field of scotch broom will progress to a forest. Bushy nitrogen fixers are essential to succession.



That might be true for inland places, not so much on the coast.  We are a disturbance based environment, so scotch broom always dominates. The little islands of scrubby trees in the dunes don't shade it out particularly well, and are themselves not very long lived in the harsh environment.

Just south of me its cousin, gorse, has taken over all the dunes.  If you search gorse in bandon, you get lovely photos of yellow flowered spiky plants covering hundreds of square miles of dunes.  It has been there for over 100 years now, and nothing has shaded it out yet.


The main reason that would happen in the desert is probably lack of water. When there isn’t enough water to trap the nutrients and allow good productive decomposition, soil cannot be built, because the organic matter just gassed off until there’s nothing left. This documentary talks about this:  

If you find out when there will be a big rain and at that time chop a bunch of gorse and pile it up, you should be able to soak a good amount of water. Or you could dig down to the lens of water in a dune and fill that hole like a mulch pit. Maybe inoculate it with a little compost.
The main problem with sand is that nutrients and bacteria easily slip through the cracks and fall very deep. The solution to that is probably trees like mesquite with absolutely insanely long taproots.

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