If you go on color, they come up pretty even.
Unfortunately, it just might be the dedicated native enthusiasts. They have been getting vocal opposition from those that feel not all non-native plants are bad for habitats and native wildlife.
Some non-natives even prove beneficial when observed. Granted, a gardener’s visual evidence is the bottom of the barrel in scientific terms, but it should not be so readily dismissed.
Well behaving non-native plants can benefit some wildlife, but many native enthusiasts (zealots) would have one believe otherwise. Of course invasive plants are not being suggested… but see next post that is not always the case.
Executive Order 13112 defines invasive to mean “an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” Most non-native plants are naturalized and not invasive. Few as such displace with abandon. (The Federal Noxious Weeds List for reference)
A respected group of bloggers, Death of a Million Trees looks at the native/non-native debate, but as it revolves around their concerns. The link is to an interesting post a few years ago, but their mission remains consistent to today. They are specific to the San Francisco Bay area, but do cite research from other areas as well.
Native plants can coexist with non-natives, it just takes knowing which ones do without detriment and additionally, provide benefit. Like myself, they favor native plants, but do not see the clear benefit to certain non-native removal projects.
They do not endorse planting non-natives, just not removing those helping the environment. You would need to read their posts to know more about their mission.
You rarely find non-native zealots. They seem to be a more forgiving group. Gardens today are filled with non-native plants and species cultivars, but not the species itself often.
The link to Death of a Million Trees cites an important example,
“The most conspicuous example of a butterfly making use of an introduced plant is the migrating Monarch which overwinters in eucalypts in several locations on the coast of California.”
Actually this eucalyptus is very unique, being the location where it is found. Nature is complex as so many factors play a part on what is beneficial to any one species or habitat. I read a lot of information on this plant and have to say, they had great arguments for keeping the eucalyptus, debunking arguments to remove it.
Discussions on native plants get some very lively discussion. On their site, the discourse is civil, well researched and most commenting are knowledgeable.
The problem on many sites is both sides of the native/non-native issue are right in many respects, yet speak too generalized, cite no credible evidence and often are too narrowly focused. Some may not consider that there is any negative ramification to their action or choice other than removal.
This issue raises many unanswerable questions that we look at next post.
How does one come to a consensus? By listening to the opposing side. And more importantly, gathering empirical data to form indisputable common ground. Not all non-natives are worth culling, burning or eradicating by pesticide as is often used. Not all non-natives should be planted either.
The way the discussion generally goes is that both sides stake out a position and then proceed to cherry-pick evidence to support their thesis, ignoring or worse, dismissing evidence that does not support the direction of their position. This seems to be why the topic gets so politicized.
If we look closely at remediation efforts, they can come to a standstill because a plant set for removal might be beneficial to one creature we all need and want, the honeybee or Monarch. The same plant might be destroying wetlands and displacing native creatures. So that presents a dilemma on what one saves at the expense of another?
We can look at where it might just be better to let nature sort it all out, rather than meddle and make things worse.
The crux of the issue is that it is all very complicated and not everyone is a winner just based on native habitat restoration. Losers abound… and sometimes those that lose, make us the loser too.