Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Non-native planting--Mistakes were made...

The other night we were driving home with the windows down and I caught a sweet smell of summer.  It only lasted for a minute before I realized it was Russian Olive.  Too late-- my nose was already plugging up.  I seem to fall for it every year!

Russian Olive is another of the invasive species we've introduced intentionally and now regret.  Although some birds like the olives, the trees are very dense (and thorny!) and crowd out native cottonwoods and willows.  In turn this influences native bird populations.  The last few years I've noticed lots more jays in the area--even eastern Blue Jays.  I don't know much about birds, but wonder what changes we've made to the environment to encourage them.  Although these trees were once sold in nurseries, they're now outlawed and we're encouraged to get rid of the trees.  Easier said than done!

Russian Olive (Elaegnus angustifolia)
A neighbor recommended I mention another non-native, and one that I really enjoy-- Chicory.  It's a weed, but the blue petals in the middle of summer add some needed color on these hot mornings.  Chicory starts blooming about the time flax dies out, and with similar colors it's almost an even trade!  You'll see it blooming in disturbed areas, especially along access roads into the Open Space.

Chicory is a native of Europe, but it's been cultivated in North America because it has edible greens and roots.  The roots are dried and ground to be used as a coffee substitute, and you can still find Chicory coffee as a specialty from New Orleans.  
Chicory (Elaegnus angustifolia)

No comments:

Post a Comment