Monday, May 31, 2010

USE Arundo

My friend Lindenfir, who has even more trouble with his TypePad blog than I have with this one (& that's sayin' sompin!), wrote the following to the California Invasive Plant Council, and copied to me.

Good ideas as usual, and applicable far beyond California:

Just read your article on Arundo donax/Giant Cane, then read up on the species elsewhere. I am dismayed and alarmed by MONSANTO and the idea of introducing foreign species (not counting Angora goats, as long as they're competently herded) to "take care of" Arundo or any other invasive. Monsanto is about as benign to our world as staphlococcus, and the history of trying to combat one noxious invasive by introducing its predator has generally been one of disaster.

Since Giant Cane has so many uses, including as a biomass fuel source and probably for pulp, fiberboard, wood polymer product material. bamboo-like flooring and panelling, etc., and since trying to rip it out can destroy habitat and cause erosion, IT SHOULD BE HARVESTED.

Imagine boats and land vehicles equipped with cutters that could "give a buzz cut" to stands. The canes, sans seed-heads, could even be left fallen (some perhaps staked or palisaded) in crushing heaps over the stumps, and this serve as a base for an overlay of soil that might be planted with native willow, alder, ash, maple, sycamore, walnut, elder, lodgepole pine, dogwood, etc., and smaller fare like native rushes, berries, oxalis and ferns, Jussiaea, Duckweed, wild grape, etc. This sort of method might also work in cases of some other alien invasives, like Tamarisk. I'd bet that, given this sort of chance, willow and wild grape could give a really good fight against the bully invaders! In damp places with North-facing canyon walls or other protection from sun and wind, good-sized native (or even not quite, like the magnificent Ahuehuete) Taxiodiaceae might even be planted.

I also wonder about things like harvesting water hyacinths, ivy, and kudzu for biomass (they have other little-exploited values, as well), and whether "beheading" milk thistle and dropping native seed - or even commercial grain - into their wet, hollow stems could serve as a moist "nursery" for those seeds to put forth roots and take over.

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