Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Invasive Species aka Noxious Weeds

One of my casual acquaintances is on the landscape committee of her condominium association.  The condo complex is a relatively small one that was developed about four miles from the Gulf of Mexico in Manatee County, Florida, in the early 1980's.  At the time of development,  the Carrotwood was a popular landscape choice.

Sadly, it was discovered too late that Carrotwoods are invasive, difficult to eradicate, and are generally a danger to already fragile coastal ecosystems.  Many areas in Florida have city/county ordinances against planting them.

This acquaintance of mine is generally considered to be a nice woman.  She and her husband are pillars of their church, and are well-loved neighbors of the condominium residents.  She is also what I call a hyper-Christian.  Prayer chains and Bible studies, as well as frequent church attendance, feature regularly in her daily life, and references to God and "his" blessings abound in her speech.  God causes the weather, the joys and heartaches we experience, and "his" will is evident all around us.

Being on the landscape committee has thrust this acquaintance into a battle with the Carrotwood trees that were planted in her condo complex and she has successfully lobbied to have many of them removed.  (No easy task, as they continue to sprout from the roots unless quite drastic action with toxic chemicals is taken.)

It has occurred to me that it is this woman's lack of control over this particular species that galls her.  Broadly speaking, she has selected the invasive Carrotwood as a touchstone for all that is beyond her ability to understand.  Her hatred of the trees in her complex is evident in the frown lines that develop between her brows, the down-turn of her mouth, and the nasty little twist in her tongue when she says 'invasive species.'  Several weeks ago, I cheerfully allowed as how God created the Carrotwood in addition to all the other trees.  For a moment, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop.  A strange look crossed her face.  That man imported and planted the trees in Florida to begin with, and that ignorant birds tend to carry the seeds for dispersion is of little account.  It is the wayward and incorrigible nature of these trees that is the entire focus of her interest in them.

If you follow the link in the first paragraph and read about the Carrotwood, you will notice similarities to the behaviors and spread of human habitation.  We too, are an invasive species, noxious weeds able to be eradicated only by the drastic action of toxic chemicals.  The degradation of the coastal areas of southwest Florida is far more likely to have been caused by intentional human greed and the desire to own water-side property.  There are not miles and miles of Carrotwood trees consuming vast acreage, but there are miles and miles of high-rise vacation rentals.  We require air-conditioning, strip malls, automobiles, a complex electric grid and miles of paving.   Our use of dwindling fresh water resources verges on the criminal.

Although they are, indeed, a threat to mangrove and other coastal habitats, the Carrotwoods provide shade, food and nesting safety for birds, and are a visually attractive tree.  Highly salt tolerant, they thrive in semi-tropical where other shade trees can't.  They are clueless bystanders in a strange war not at all of their own making.  To blame the trees themselves, is like blaming the winter snow for a flood in June.

Like human beings and snow and even flooding or thunderstorms, the Carrotwood is neither all good nor all bad.  And the small and rather interfering God of my acquaintance, probably has little or nothing to do with any of these mysteries!

1 comment:

  1. How true your words are. Maybe her God had a purpose for allowing the Carrotwood trees to be introduced into that area. Maybe they will or have already anchored the soil to prevent erosion damage during a hurricane. Praise the Lord for small favors.