Wednesday, February 20, 2008

John Blakeman is properly indignant

I posted the previous note about the beauties of the Cornelian Cherry at 10 a.m. today - 2/20/08 . Shortly thereafter came the following properly indignant letter from John Blakeman, with which I essentially agree.

As beautiful and seasonally interesting as Cornelian Cherry, Cornus mas, might be in Central Park, it should be understood that the plant is an introduced non-native species.
From that perspective, it might as well be made of plastic or porcelain. Concerning authentic North American ecosystems, the plant has no natural role here.
The beauty of C. mas does not substitute for native species. How many "good looking" foreign plants have been brought to North American for horticultural purposes and have then "escaped" to wild habitats, where they continue to cause all sorts of problems. North East forests are being overtaken by Norway maples. Here in the Midwest (and elsewhere) gorgeous Asian honeysuckles now choke native forests.
The list of horticultural varieties now causing ecological havoc in North American ecosystems is lengthy. Fortunately, Cornelian Cherry does not appear to be a species of particular concern (for now). But those of us who appreciate natural beauty and native ecosystems must be ever-diligent in helping to maintain native species of all sorts. Artificial competition from invasive, non-native species is far and away the greatest threat to natural ecosystems.
Central Park visitors should be welcome to ponder the beauty of Cornelian Cherry, but it's the same as that of pigeons, starlings, and dandelions, all of which are invasive non-natives.
--John Blakeman