Saturday, November 17, 2007


Nandina is another one of those plants like wisteria, privet, and kudzu that was introduced to Mississippi in gardens or for erosion control and liked the situation so well that they decided to go native. A cousin of mine who works in the academics of natural reforestation told me to de-nandina my hill so as not to encourage invasion. I couldn't bear to rip the hundred year old nandina out, but I did dedicate myself to digging all the invading plants outside of my yard, on the fence rows, and woods.

It is difficult to stand firm in my commitment because Nandina is so pretty. In the spring there is new growth and tiny white flowers. In the fall and winter there are red berries and red and green leaves. If my children and the birds leave them alone, the berries are perfect for Christmas decorations. The foliage and leaves will last weeks. If I leave the foliage and berries outside, I get beautiful color in an otherwise bland gardening season. I also provide berries for birds. Of course, they will eat them, then seed a few more plants, which I have promised to uproot.

Why do I like all of the invasive species and find it so difficult to do the right thing?


ZILLA said...

I think many plants, invasive or not, are beautiful simply because they're thriving so. In our region, one of the most beautiful sights is acres and acres of purple loosetrife, a native European plant that gardeners introduced to boarder beds here. It will not take over a boarder garden, but once a single seed is introduced, by wind or bird or by any other means, to wetlands, LOOK OUT! It chokes out native plants and then the native wildlife that depended on those plants disappear.

Another invader, on the northern Pacific coastline, has been gorse, which was introduced from Scotland by an immigrant who missed it so. It covers much of the dunesland in Oregon and is prone to catching fire. I don't find it as pretty as purple loosestrife as it is quite prickly and shrubby, sort of like those horrid bramble-vines Disney portrayed in "Snow White," the movie. Still, thriving gorse in flower is an impressive sight.

If you grew up with an invasive species, you probably appreciated its beauty before you knew it was invasive. It's not the plant's fault that it was introduced -- it's just an innocent plant!

I take the position that man is a part of nature, rather than apart from nature; the planet constantly changes and evolves, with and without our intervention. I like to see people working with as opposed to working against.

I think your approach is fair enough -- control what's reasonably controlled, accept what one person can't control alone, and appreciate beauty wherever you find it. And I'd bet dollars to donuts you'd sooner serve European invasive dandelion greens than resort to Round-Up. That's a good way to move through the world.

Becky said...

I've never heard of it. It's beautiful, and, you're right, very Christmasy. Gosh, if I had another daughter, I'd be tempted to call her Nandina!

In the West Indies there's a vine call coralita that's a pest but it's beautiful, with heart-shaped leaves and pink or white flowers. It will climb up trees and smother them. I brought a cutting home to grow as a house plant, but down there I once helped a neighbor dig it out.

Wisteria said...

I do appreciate the beauty of these invasive plants. I wrote earlier about the invasive Japanese privet and my blog is named after another invasive, non-native plant - wisteria. Yet, I do see the changes in flora. Do all these non-natives interfere with my dogwood, redbud, and oak leaf hydrangea? Are the wild plums gone because of Round-Up or did they get squeezed out by the privet, wisteria, mimosa, or nandina?

Kate in NJ said...

I agree it would be hard to do the "right thing" when it's just so pretty!