It’s worth clarifying why I want to completely extirpate honeysuckle from my woods. It’s mostly because I’ll be unsuccessful at it. This is an odd thing to say, but it’s very true. Every year I pull around 100 honeysuckle seedlings while pulling garlic mustard. Even though I pull these seedlings, I know I’ll never win. My woods on two sides are completely bordered by honeysuckle and I kinda like it that way. I like it because even if it wasn’t bordered by honeysuckle it wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter because taking an even higher birds-eye view, my township has 18,000 acres where most of the remaining woods have increasingly dense populations of honeysuckle.

You might say my woods is an island in the middle of a honeysuckle sea providing its islanders with time to evolve and learn to live within the sea of honeysuckle. So for the foreseeable future, I’ll continue thinking in terms of removing all of it from my woods. It’ll be obvious when I can stop targeting honeysuckle so aggressively. That time will come when my islanders become more successful at moving off the island.

This is why I like it that my woods are bordered on two sides by honeysuckle. I like it because it allows me to see if any of my islanders are successful at invading the turf on the other side of the line. Can any of my islanders survive in the honeysuckle sea?

The Sea

My woods is a secret garden of comparative ecological purity within a sea of honeysuckle. The sea is a foreboding place with no rules and no order. There is no collection policy or extraction policy in honeysuckle sea. I am reliant on a few brave souls willing to plunge into the sea. Willing to leap head first into a tangle of branches armed only with iphones to document their observations.

Urgent dispatches are received telling of foreign plant communities aggressively expanding within the honeysuckle sea. Other dispatches tell of small colonies of remnant North American plants stretching back to the furthest reaches of the Holocene epoch. Some of them crawling with creatures clinging to these local plants for their own survival.

These remnant North American plant communities have defied the odds. Clinging to life amidst the Columbian Exchange and Great Acceleration. Likely in this same area prior to first European contact and long before that. Encouraging their survival is like reaching back into the Holocene, gathering them up, and handing them off into the Anthropocene.

This, more than anything, is what I’m trying to do on my island. It’s impossible, after working at this goal all these years to know what I’ve achieved. Even when my team finds one of my local islander species inside the honeysuckle sea there is no way of knowing if the parent plants are my islanders. It could be its own remnant population or a new population born of parents from a different ecological island. Perhaps the important thing is that I’ve done nothing to hurt their existence within the sea.

My team never gathers them up. Only documents their existence. It would be cruel to gather these plants that have won this evolutionary lottery. Existing with the correct geography and genetics to resist the endless advance of the sea. Pulling them up and bringing them to my island would deny them the chance to expand in the specific place that has allowed their specific genetics to resist the sea.

My islanders and our collection policy won’t allow it. Instead, we seek out similar communities that cannot survive. Remnant North American plant colonies with local genotypes that are threatened by road expansions or housing developments. Plants that can be gathered up and brought to my island because their specific place will no longer exist for their specific genetics to reside within.

The Island

It’s leafy green and serene on ecological island. Twenty three species of trees are endemic to the island. Three additional tree species have been collected and added in. The trees are of varying sizes and shape and boast a varied assortment of leaves. The understory, while still recovering, hosts colonies of buckeye, sassafras, pawpaw, and northern spicebush. The herbaceous layer holds a dazzling array of 41 endemic species with 30 more North American locals collected and added in.

The islanders benefit from an extraction policy that calls for the ultimate extirpation of honeysuckle, euonymus, celandine, garlic mustard, tree of heaven, and english ivy. Other less troublesome specimens from outside North America are held in check. The island’s simple extraction policy has allowed each of its North American plant colonies to slowly expand for the past 15 years.

Carefully maintained trails direct visitors away from the islanders. Plant stands with potted annuals adorn trails and add splashes of color to the shades of green. Garden walls challenge deer and provide texture and interest. Two small social areas are anchored by a fire-pit and trampoline and allow humans to entertain themselves while enjoying the space. If the island is kept pleasant enough to both humans and islanders, other islands are apt to emerge from the sea.

Publicado el junio 18, 2022 01:01 TARDE por stockslager stockslager


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