Invasive plants

Tom Mitchell
Thu, 24 Nov 2011 03:04:08 PST
Apologies for this slightly off-topic post but the issue of invasive plants is pertinent to all gardeners and often seems to crop up in this list.

'The Garden' is the flagship publication of the Royal Horticultural Society and is sent once a month to the organisation's 400,000 members. It is regularly lambasted by real gardeners for having dumbed down, an accurate but unfair accusation, given that the the UK's largest circulation newspaper, 'The Sun' assumes a reading age of eight in its 'readers'. Why should The Garden's subscribers be expected to read anything more challenging? I was encouraged therefore to see a prominent article by David Pearman in the latest edition entitled 'The 'alien' invasion myth'. Pearman is a past president of the Botanical Society of the British Isles and has for 20 years co-ordinated the society's network of botanical recorders who have accumulated 18 million records of 4,000 plant species throughout the British Isles. He is therefore speaking with great authority when he says 'the data shows that most aliens are rare; that they occur overwhelmingly in and around towns and transport networ
 ks; and that they are generally uncommon in the semi-natural habitats that we most want to preserve.'

Pearman makes several other valuable points, deploring the fatuous headlines generated by scare stories put about by 'invasive species officers' of conservation charities and the scapegoating of gardeners, who he says play a negligible role in causing the spread of invasive plants. He also notes perceptively that many of the most damaging invasive plants are 'native'; gorse on chalk downland, for example.

Most interestingly for members of this list, Pearman also says that 'the picture is hopelessly confused by unsubstantiated myths...[such as]...that all would be well if we only planted from an 'approved' list'.

Perhaps it would be worth raising Pearman's article with the various lobbyists who believe that the way back to ecological Eden is to police what gardeners grow.

A version of Pearman's article can be downloaded at:…


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