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Article: Coral Ardisia, A Beautiful but Invasive Plant: Invasive species: myth or menace?

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Forum: Article: Coral Ardisia, A Beautiful but Invasive PlantReplies: 16, Views: 118
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flabotany
Gainesville, FL

February 4, 2010
4:03 PM

Post #7528933

Ardisia grows quite well here in north Florida, it is found in the understory of mesic hardwood forests. I think it is a wonderful plant, and I wonder why we are so myopic concerning these so-called "invasive" plants. The question should not be: "Why is Coral Ardisia Bad?", but; "IS Ardisia bad?"

Plants, animals, organisms of every stripe have been moving around this planet for billions of years now. Long distance dispersal is common, and there is no difference between the movement of seeds by wind, wave, bird, bat, monkey or man. One of the few beneficial actions of our species has been to assist in these migrations of other species around the planet. Ardisia is no different, its presence increases biodiversity, increases niche development, increases species interactions, increases ecosystem services.

Ecosystems are constantly changing. Ten thousand years ago; Florida looked more like the African savannah, there were mastadons, camels, giant ground sloths, etc., eating their way across the landscape. Today it is a human dominated landscape. In ten thousand more years it will be something else entirely. If Ardisia can persist here and become part of this ever-changing land, then so be it, it has as much a right to be here as we do.

The terms "native" or "exotic/non-native" have absolutely NO biological meaning whatsoever. Even a cursory review of biogeography or evolutionary history would lead one to discard those terms. For those that vent so loudly about the evils of exotic species, I ask; are Homo sapiens "native" to North America?


Meredith79
Southeastern, NH
(Zone 5b)

February 4, 2010
5:56 PM

Post #7529340

I disagree with you on so many levels that I could not let myself get into it here. However I will point out one obvious problem that plants like this cause. Extinction of species! If plants that are supposed to grow in an area naturally are not able to compete then you not only lose those plants but all the wildlife that need them to survive. What if you were the wild creature that lost your source of food and had to die due to starvation just because a human decided a plant was pretty and grew easily for them... would that then be okay with you, for them to plant it?

This message was edited Feb 4, 2010 1:36 PM
flabotany
Gainesville, FL

February 4, 2010
6:36 PM

Post #7529469

I'm not sure what "Distinction of species" is???
How are plants "supposed" to grow somewhere, the plants you see growing around you (not introduced) are nothing but accidents of evolution and geography. There is no such thing as a native species. All extant species come from lineages that have been moving around this planet for a very long time, oak trees are not "supposed" to grow outside my house, they are here because of innumerable events that have occured over millions & millions of years. Just as kangaroos are not "supposed" to be in Australia, or camels in Arabia (camels, by the way evolved in North America; so they must be invasive everywhere else). To your last point, the article above mentioned how Ardisia is used by many kinds of wildlife for food, so I imagine that those critters have benefited.
Mishal
Caguas
Puerto Rico

February 4, 2010
6:44 PM

Post #7529497

I agree with Meredith. Frankly, I believe most of the blame of the introduction of non-native plants can be laid squarely at the feet of nurseries and landscape designers, who may not know what kind of plant they are selling or planting, but sell and plant it anyway. They are seriously for-profit businesses, so it does not matter to them if a plant is invasive, only that it sells (and nurseries likely prefer it if a plant isn't that hardy, since it makes people return to buy more, thinking they can do better "next time").

Just recently, I had a near brush with releasing Japanese honeysuckle into the wild, in conditions that it would absolutely LOVE. I purchased the plant for its blooms and scent, and was told it was a "trumpet jasmine", which I believed, because it does smell *exactly* like a jasmine*. I already have a jasmine (Angelwing), and it behaves itself, even when grown outdoors and pruned responsibly. If I'd put the honeysuckle out in the patio with it, it would have choked out everything around it and then escaped down (and up) the hillside! (I face a similar choking problem with "Arachis pintoi" Ornamental Ground Peanut, which I pull up and kill at every opportunity, but it is a *weed* and I hate that it snuck into my garden from who-knows-where, because it was sold as a "low-maintenance, attractive border plant".)

Years ago at the same nursery, I was sold a Wandering Iris/Apostle Plant, under the classification of a "White Grass Orchid", yes, it does resemble grass orchids (I have two genuine ones) in growth, but certainly not in behavior at all. It's happy to roam if it's allowed, and it makes a great hanging basket plant, but it certainly would decimate the land if it was set free.

Desert Petunia's roaming wild here as well, introduced as a pretty border plant in parking lot growing places, as opposed to bougainvillea or any type of succulent or cacti, which are temperature hardy, look attractive and above all, don't spread like wildfire! I find Petunias running down the sides of highways now, looking just as weedy and ugly as the crab and sawgrass we ALREADY have running wild here. I see the same thing about to happen with Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum). It is never, ever going to be cold enough, for long enough to kill it, so I can just see it replacing the sawgrass. Assuming of course, that place offering "Field Ivy" ("Excellent ground-cover, prevents hillside erosion and good for horses, cattle and goats to eat") which smelled suspiciously grape-like, doesn't sell any of that first.

In short, really, I do believe that people can responsibly manage introduced species, after all, I love rice and peaches and apples as much as anyone and they're not from the States, just introduced there. But I also believe that those known invasive species need to be monitored, or, at least failing that, people should be INFORMED of what they're buying, not sold some cutsey-named plant like frickin' "trumpet jasmine" when it should be called a "You're never, ever getting this out of the ecosystem if you plant it, especially if you also seed the ground with this slow-release fertilizer it'll love that I'm also pushing at you" weed.

* At least as much to someone who has trouble smelling flowers like I do.
flabotany
Gainesville, FL

February 4, 2010
6:54 PM

Post #7529523

I am amused at how people are so quick to point at some other species in outrage, and claim that some plant/animal/whatever is harmful or ruinous. Plants & animals do not destroy environments. Only our species destroys enviroments.
Mishal
Caguas
Puerto Rico

February 4, 2010
7:01 PM

Post #7529537

Yeah, but letting loose the water hyacinth and purple loosestrife in the first place didn't help either, now did it? And especially just the ones turned loose because they were "pretty".

I'd also argue that starlings are pretty nasty on their own merits, what with killing native bird chicks deliberately and all.

Mongooses, however, can be forgiven (ish), since the people who loosed them decided that a diurnal species would become nocturnal to hunt rats if they asked them very nicely. Or that cane toads aren't exactly limited to cane fields, and don't like to eat cane beetles that much anyway, and they couldn't jump that high to reach them in the first place. (And said people didn't learn their lesson in Puerto Rico... or the Virgin Islands... or Hawai'i... or Australia... There's a line somewhere about the mental competency of someone who repeats the same action over and over again, expecting a different result each time.)
flabotany
Gainesville, FL

February 4, 2010
7:36 PM

Post #7529650

So a species is only beneficial if it is useful to people?

Water hyacinth & purple loosestrife are beneficial in many ways, as I stated above, introduced species increase biodiversity, niche development, species interactions, ecosystem services, etc. Puerto Rico, the Virgin Island, Hawai'i, Australia are all more biodiverse now than they have ever been in the history of this planet, because of introduced species. Should all humans dissapear tomorrow, these places would continue to change and those species would do as they have always done; evolve, migrate, speciate, or possibly go extinct.

When the starlings start building Wal-marts, then I'll be concerned.
can2grow
Valparaiso, FL
(Zone 8b)

February 4, 2010
11:27 PM

Post #7530375

Dear flabotany,

Please check out these links:

plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/42
http://www.invasive.org/species/subject.cfm?sub=3008
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag281
plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARCR80
http://www.fleppc.org/ID_book/ardisia%20crenata.pdf

Or just GOOGLE coral ardisia or Ardisia crenata.

Your opinion is in conflict with the experts.


flabotany
Gainesville, FL

February 5, 2010
12:07 AM

Post #7530513

Please read:
Invasion Biology: Critique of a Pseudoscience
By David Theodoropoulos. Published by Avvar Books, Blythe, California.
ISBN 0-9708504-1-7
Meredith79
Southeastern, NH
(Zone 5b)

February 5, 2010
12:28 AM

Post #7530585

Well I do agree with flabotany about humans being invasive. If we did not bring these plants here they would not be here. We are like cancer to the earth (as quoted from The Matrix). It seems you are very set in your opinions and no one will change your mind, and every one is entitled to their own beliefs. However have you ever read up on any of these plants mentioned? If you google purple loosestrife and read through all the various websites you will read all the reason's why they consider it invasive. I didn't want to get into a lengthy description because it could take me all night to type up everything just on this one plant species. Like I said I don't feel it would change your opinion anyway. However I do hope that if any one else reading this is on the fence they do some research of their own and come to their own decision. The way I look at it is if we continue to allow the known invasive plants to crowd out the native habitats, future generations will be robbed of a good percentage of the wonderful wildlife that make me happy to be a part of this wonderful world. Example The purple loosestrife is causing migratory birds to abandon old flight paths due to not being able to find food. So how is that increasing diversity? It is the reason we are losing diversity! Instead of wetlands full of different varieties of native plants that support populations of insects and migratory birds there are stands of only loosestrife. Are you telling me you are alright with this being the only plant in wetlands, with practically no wildlife benefiting from it, when you go on a nature outing? I am sorry I just don't understand how someone sees that as being right or okay!?
flabotany
Gainesville, FL

February 5, 2010
2:29 AM

Post #7530919

Quiz:
Which of these species occurs in monocultures covering over 86 million acres in the United states?

(a) Lythrum salicaria (Purple loosestrife)
(b) Zea mays (Corn)
can2grow
Valparaiso, FL
(Zone 8b)

February 5, 2010
1:24 PM

Post #7531772

Another quiz: Which of these species is cultivated to feed much of humanity?
(a) Lythrum salicaria
(b) Zea mays
flabotany
Gainesville, FL

February 5, 2010
1:57 PM

Post #7531871

So, as long as it is useful to humans we can ignore all these (agricultural) ecological deserts?
Please take a good look at a satellite photo of the Florida peninsula or just about any part of this continent, and see if you can spot any of these horrible invasive species. You probly won't,but what you will see is a landscape completely dominated by one species (our own). Your outrage is misplaced, you are standing in a Wal-mart parking lot and pointing at some weed thinking thats the problem. Stop and take a look around, I imagine that Florida panthers once roamed what is now your back yard, too bad for them that they were in the way of our "progress".
Mishal
Caguas
Puerto Rico

February 5, 2010
5:16 PM

Post #7532424

You've changed the subject, quite well in fact. At first you argued in favor of exotic species being introduced into habitats where they did not belong, with a supremely lop-sided view of what defines species and habitat and you know, ecosystems.

When challenged, you decided to play a straw-man gambit with the "So? Humans are non-native too." when the conversation was begun on plants, and then you threw in that weird bit about plants only being acceptable if people found them useful. Do inform me, where does Coral Ardisia even compare to the value or impact of corn or rice, which, animals do also eat, and tend to only grow in areas that support their specific biochemistry and only with human nursing, and completely unlike Ardisia, which will grow ANYWHERE it gets a chance with absolutely no human-imposed life-support at all? That distinction is what prevents corn or wheat, or rye or rice from being considered invasive. They're not native, that's not even under debate because they aren't native anymore than a human is outside of the Olduvai Gorge (but I bet you have no plants to do the Earth a favor and move back), but they are not INVASIVE. Ya can't have a monoculture unless you "culture" it.

Yes, corn and rice and every other food crop does push out native plants, but they still only grow under particular conditions, with particular care. This limits their spread considerably, nothing similar will stop ardisia, and damage it causes outweighs any brief benefits it grants a few migratory birds, I don't suppose you've even considered what ardisia's spread would do to insects, which rely on specific host plants, which ardisia shades out. The insects are far more beneficial to the ecosystem than ardisia berries.

But again, you've done a very good job here, first pushing for acceptance of exotic species, through a nice distracting blame of the superficiality of people in general, to suddenly turning the conversation towards how damaging exotics are, and how everyone's up in arms about "standing in a Wal-mart parking lot and pointing at some weed thinking thats the problem".

A weed, even a virulent spreading one, is safe to have around, so long as it *stays* in it's parking lot. Letting it loose in the wild, to do what it's developed and struggled, evolutionarily speaking, to become very good at doing is not a good idea. And that is what this article was about, not the anti-exotic/invasive agenda you think it is.
flabotany
Gainesville, FL

February 5, 2010
6:32 PM

Post #7532672

There is not enough room here to respond entirely to your ramble, but I would like you to please clarify some statements.

1."species being introduced into habitats where they did not belong" - Where exactly does a species belong? Is there some particular part of the planet that only species X can live, what about the natural migration of species through space and time?

2. "Ardisia, which will grow ANYWHERE" - Really, that would truely be amazing, because here it is rather limited to a particular type of habitat.

3 "Yes, corn and rice and every other food crop does push out native plants, but they still only grow under particular conditions, with particular care. This limits their spread considerably" - So 86+ million acres of what is now corn, was once something else, how many acres does Ardisia cover?

4. "The insects are far more beneficial to the ecosystem than ardisia berries" - Which species of insect have gone extinct because of Ardisia?

5. "supremely lop-sided view of what defines species" - I don't believe I had touched upon the definition of species or species concepts, but we could do that another time.

6. "But again, you've done a very good job here, first pushing for acceptance of exotic species, through a nice distracting blame of the superficiality of people in general" - I think my point was that we ignore our destructive actions and then look at other species as the problem, when the problem is us. I don't think that is a distraction, but a argument that puts the "invasive species" problem in perspective, perhaps you can enlighten me.

7. "A weed, even a virulent spreading one, is safe to have around, so long as it *stays* in it's parking lot" - Again, I do not understand what this means. Are you a creationist or something, because organisms have been moving around this planet for a long long time, and will continue to do so, nothing *stays*.
Meredith79
Southeastern, NH
(Zone 5b)

February 5, 2010
10:19 PM

Post #7533332

We can't stop humans from growing a food source so I think you are way off track - are you forgetting the fact that - This particular plant Ardisia is only of use as an 'Ornamental' a few meisley species use the berries for food, and it will make plants that sustain a heathy eco system become extinct! So how can you even consider comparing it that way!?

Terry

Terry
Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)


February 5, 2010
10:58 PM

Post #7533453

Ahem. A friendly note from a site admin and editor ;o)

These threads are provided so you can converse with one another about a particular article, but they are not to argue or quarrel over issues that have a certain element of controversy to them. It is unlikely either side is going to change their position on the matter of native and invasive plants here. But it looks like everyone has had an opportunity to speak their mind, so I think it's time to let the matter drop, shall we?

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Other Article: Coral Ardisia, A Beautiful but Invasive Plant Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
Here as well jjacques 0 Feb 4, 2010 8:07 AM
Not in WA - whew wannadanc 0 Feb 4, 2010 8:56 AM
Menace in Houston LeslieT 1 Feb 9, 2010 3:28 AM
Not a menace in dry Mediterranean S. CA natureguyfrog 0 Feb 10, 2010 12:25 PM
Invasive = bad news Spikelet 0 Feb 15, 2010 1:23 PM


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