Jim McKenney
Sat, 17 Jul 2004 07:06:52 PDT
At 04:01 PM 7/17/2004 +1000, Paul Tyerman wrote:

>I am in a mild climate and I have yet to have problems with either of the
>species you mention, despite seeing numerous diatribes to warn me off them.
>No offence intended.... but would it be possible for you to please modify
>the information you've put up on the wiki re the two Pinellias.  

And no offense taken. Thank you for playing devil's advocate for these
plants, Paul.  I knew I would get some flack from that posting, and I'm
ready to answer all fair criticisms. 

I spoke from experience, albeit provincial experience. I was careful to
point that out. I can't speak for others. It's reasonable to assume that
somewhere even the worst of these plants will meet a climate which tames
them somewhat. I don't know that. But maybe you do: speak from your own
experience and I'll respect that. But be sure it's experience and not
wishful thinking. 

With respect to the information on the wiki, remember, I don't own it: you
are free to add your own comments. I'm perfectly content to have my name
associated  with the condemnation of these plants. Are you ready to have
yours associated with their promotion as garden plants? 

I can't help pointing out that you yourself indicated that I am not the
first to fly the red flag - as you put it "despite seeing numerous
diatribes to warn me off them."

If your experience with them turns out to be anything like mine, you will
regret  standing up for them. Pinellia ternata/tuberifera is particularly
insidious. It grew here for years before I finally realized the monster I
had introduced to my garden. Initially it seemed well behaved, but its true
character eventually became apparent. It took years for this to happen; now
my garden's soil bank is rich with it. 

There is no reasonable way to control this plant (methyl bromide is not a
reasonable way!). The little tubers which form on the leaves, when unripe,
can not be removed without removing the leaf. How many gardeners have the
time to keep a lookout on a potentially invasive plant in order to be there
at the moment when it about to spill its devil's spawn into the world? It
just makes better sense to avoid the plant altogether. 

And consider what happens when the plant ends up in gardens whose owners
will eventually age: no matter how scrupulous they are about controlling
the plant, the time will come when they will slow down, back off and relax
their guard. And then the Pinellia will romp, right into local fields and
woodlands - as it has in most of the states here in northeastern North

Let's face it: there is no way to predict how a new plant will behave in
our gardens. They all are innocent until proven guilty. Once they are
proven guilty, it's too late to do anything about it. Has any weedy alien
plant ever been completely exterminated once it got loose? Extinction is
forever, but so too, apparently, is the introduction of alien plants into a
receptive environment.  

We gardeners have a lot to answer for with respect to the alien plants we
have turned loose on our communities. We here in eastern North America
dropped the ball and botched this one: let others be warned!

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where I'm off to yank yet
more Pinellia - and that other champion usurper, Pollia japonica. 

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