Invasive lists, was Sharing seeds of rare plants

Rodger Whitlock
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:12:35 PST
On 15 Nov 2014, at 8:31, Robin Hansen wrote:

> I was told in 2012 by someone from British Columbia, and I think the
> occurence was on Vancouver Island, that coum is beginning to run wild in
> one or two woodland areas there.  I suppose there's always the concern
> about eliminating native species.  Where the concern about coum in Oregon
> has originated, who knows?  It surely can't be from Boyd's garden.

News to me. Not that I know everything happening here.

From what I've seen, those who yammer most about "invasive" species are 
actually motivated by an ideology that condemns all non-native plants as a 
stench in the nostrils of God. They don't actually care (and usually don't 
know) if a given taxon is genuinely invasive (that is, a plant that chokes out 
natives), or not.

I have a very long driveway (~300') that has a ten-foot wide pavement with ten 
feet of wild vegetation on each side. I grow many cyclamen in my garden. The 
two species that have gradually sown themselves along the length of my driveway 
are C. hederifolium (no suprise there) and C. repandum. Very few or no C. coum 
though I have beds full of it inside the property line.

And even those escapees are far from being invasive: nothing is choked out by 
their growth. They don't form a thick carpet; it's a plant here and a plant 

The reality is that a very few plants are genuine invasives. The chicken 
littles screaming about other, quite innocuous escapes actually harm the cause 
by throwing all those red herrings into everyone's face and confusing the 

For cyclamen coum to naturalize in a very few areas comes as no surprise, given 
the size of Vancouver Island and the wide range of microclimates on it. There 
are (or were) even feral narcissus spread by seed in one area (though real 
estate development may have annihilated them by now).

What causes sardonic laughter: the provincial list of "invasives" and 
provincial failure to actually do anything to control them. Buddleia davidii is 
on the list; it is naturalized in a few places, one of them along a major 
highway, but you never see any sign that anybody is working on digging them out 
along that highway and destroying them. The ferals continue to grow as strongly 
as ever.

That same list reportedly includes all cyclamen species. How incredibly stupid!

The real invasives here are Cytisus scoparius (Scotch broom) and Hedera helix 
(ivy), plus a few fairly poisonous species such as Heracleum mantegazzianum 
(giant hogweed) and Conium maculatum (water hemlock). The poisonous ones are 
quite uncommon, in fact.

All the regulations about plant importation and related activities overlook one 
important factor: human nature. If the regulations were written with the intent 
of making plant importation as easy as possible, compliance would be much 
higher. But because the existing regulations are unreasonable (and fairly 
ignorant), and impose onerous paperwork on would-be importers, they encourage 
smuggling, quite the opposite of the intended effect. Bureaucrats in my 
experience never think that way, however. They have a touching, childish belief 
that making a rule against some behavior or other stops it from happening. 
Which simply isn't true: there are strong laws against murder, child abuse, 
fraud, and many other serious crimes, but we constantly read of new instances 
of all these. How many such crimes go undetected is anybody's guess, but I'd 
say the majority are never noticed.
Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Z. 7-8, cool Mediterranean climate

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