June 13, 2007

Kudzu, Tamarisk & a Proposed New Holiday

So I am here at the ASLE conference, down as far in the South as I have been in some years, and I meet at a reception a man from a local anti-kudzu group called Knock Out Kudzu.

When I told him about the kudzu-infested farm in SE Missouri that my sister once owned, he seemed a little skeptical. (Joke: She bought it in the summer, and when winter came, discovered a couple of more small outbuildings that had been lost in the kudzu growth.) Maybe her place was the northernmost outpost of kudzu, I don't really know.

Knock Out Kudzu is all about removing the stuff through mechanical means without using herbicides and letting the native vegetation come up in its place. Good for them. May they flourish like ... uh, kudzu.

I wish tamarisk control were as easy. When I mentioned tamarisk, his face was blank. Regional differences. But when I talked to a Californian, she countered with eucalyptus (water-sucking fire hazard), so we at least had an understanding. (Tamarisk sucks water and makes its soil saltier.)

Mistakenly, I once thought that tamarisk could be blamed on Frank Meyer, but apparently it arrived in the American Southwest several generations earlier. But we can blame him for Russian olive infestations now considered partners in crime with tamarisk when it comes to ruining native biological diversity.

If the native-plants advocates want to lose all of their genteel garden club image, they could start an annual holiday on which Frank Meyer is burned in effigy, like Guy Fawkes in England. Banners could proclaim, "American Vegetation Does Not Need Improving," or something like that. And in the South they could burn Channing Cope, feeding the blaze with kudzu vines.

Just a thought.


Anonymous said...

Chas, a closer analogy to kudzu in California is ice plant, with similar ground cover displacement of native species - though nothing grows like kudzu! Attitudes toward eucalyptus differ in Northern and Southern California. Up north where it's wetter, eucalyptus spreads and displaces natives, putting them on the invasive list. In the drier south the trees mostly stay where you put them. There is a huge grove outside of Santa Barbara planted in the 1870s by a farmer who (mistakenly) believed they would make worm-proof piles for sea landing piers. Ironically the grove is unntouchable today as it is the home of the largest colony of monarch butterflies in the US.

I posted last week on Chattanooga's use of goats to fight kudzu.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I'm all for your proposed holiday!

Chas S. Clifton said...


And which one of them would you be burning in effigy, Meyer or Cope?

Anonymous said...

Burn 'em all!!!