In the “Old Days” this would be classified as a Cut-and-Save article. I think that it is a good idea to have a glossary of plant-related classification terms, so I would like to post a list of definitions from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (Connecticut):
Native, Invasive, and Other Plant-Related Definitions
A plant that is a part of the balance of nature that has developed over hundreds or thousands of years in a particular region or ecosystem. Note: The word native should always be used with a geographic qualifier (that is, native to New England [for example]). Only plants found in this country before European settlement are considered to be native to the United States.
A plant that is both non-native and able to establish on many sites, grow quickly, and spread to the point of disrupting plant communities or ecosystems. Note: From the Presidential Executive Order 13112 (February 1999): ‘An invasive species is defined as a species that is 1) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and 2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.’ In contrast to item 2) of the Executive Order, which includes plants invasive in agricultural settings, the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group lists non-native plants as invasive only if they invade minimally managed (natural) areas.
A plant introduced with human help (intentionally or accidentally) to a new place or new type of habitat where it was not previously found. Note: Not all non-native plants are invasive. In fact, when many non-native plants are introduced to new places, they cannot reproduce or spread readily without continued human help (for example, many ornamental plants).
A non-native plant that does not need human help to reproduce and maintain itself over time in an area where it is not native. Notes: Even though their offspring reproduce and spread naturally (without human help), naturalized plants do not, over time, become native members of the local plant community. Many naturalized plants are found primarily near human-dominated areas; and, sometimes, naturalized is used (confusingly) to refer specifically to naturally reproducing, non-native plants that do not invade areas dominated by native vegetation. However, since invasive plants also reproduce and spread without human help, they also are naturalized. Invasives are a small, but troublesome, sub-category of naturalized plants.
A plant not native to the continent on which it is now found. (Plants from Europe are exotic in North America; plants from North America are exotic in Japan.)
A plant not native to the portion of the continent where it is now found. (California Poppies in New England are an example of a translocated species.)
Opportunistic Native Plant
A native plant that is able to take advantage of disturbance to the soil or existing vegetation to spread quickly and out-compete the other plants on the disturbed site.
Common Usage – A weed is a plant (native or non-native) that is not valued in the place where it is growing (USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)). Definition – Any plant that poses a major threat to agriculture and/or natural ecosystems within the United States.
Common Usage – A plant that is particularly troublesome. Legal Context (Federal Plant Protection Act) – Any plant or plant product that can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to crops (including nursery stock or plant products), livestock, poultry or other interests of agriculture, irrigation, navigation, the natural resources of the United States, the public health, or the environment. Note: USDA APHIS maintains a list of federally-recognized noxious weeds. It is illegal to import Federally listed noxious weeds or transport them across state lines. Some states or counties maintain lists and have passed laws regarding responsibilities for their control.
A third peculiarity about the forest is that it exhibits a dynamic beauty. A Beethoven symphony or a poem of Shelley, a landscape by Corot or a Gothic cathedral, once it is finished becomes virtually static. But the wilderness is in constant flux. A seed germinates, and a stunted seedling battles for decades against the dense shade of the virgin forest. Then some ancient tree blows down and the long-suppressed plant suddenly enters into the full vigor of delayed youth, grows rapidly from sapling to maturity, declines into the conky senility of many centuries, dropping millions of seeds to start a new forest upon the rotting debris of its own ancestors, and eventually topples over to admit the sunlight which ripens another woodland generation.
Bob Marshall (Founder of The Wilderness Society)
All knowledge is related. When we know more about the corner of the world where we live, we know more about the green and fragile planet which is home to all humans. Our own little spark of curiosity is part of the immense mystery which surrounds all life. I learned that no corner of the world was without wonder, that every living creature or plant or drop of water holds miracles if we would look, listen, think, relate.
In the wild a plant and its pests are continually coevolving, in a dance of resistance and conquest that can have no ultimate victor. But coevolution ceases in an orchard of grafted trees, since they are genetically identical from generation to generation. The problem very simply is that the apple trees no longer reproduce sexually, as they do when they’re grown from seed, and sex is nature’s way of creating fresh genetic combinations. At the same time the viruses, bacteria, fungi, and insects keep very much at it, reproducing sexually and continuing to evolve until eventually they hit on the precise genetic combination that allows them to overcome whatever resistance the apples may have once possessed. Suddenly total victory is in the pests’ sight—unless, that is, people come to the tree’s rescue, wielding the tools of modern chemistry.
Michael Pollan–The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World
Even in purely economic terms, the opportunity costs of extinction are going to prove enormous. Research on just small numbers of wild species has yielded major advances in the quality of human life — an abundance of pharmaceuticals, new biotechnology, and advances in agriculture. If there were no fungi of the right kind, there would be no antibiotics. Without wild plants with edible stems, fruit and seeds available for selective breeding, there would be no cities, and no civilization. No wolves, no dogs. No wild fowl, no chickens. No horses and camelids, no overland journeys except by hand-pulled vehicles and backpacks. No forests to purify water and pay it out gradually, no agriculture except with less productive dryland crops. No wild vegetation and phytoplankton, not enough air to breathe. Without nature, finally, no people.
Edward O. Wilson
The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night… All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. The Vedas say, “All intelligences awake with the morning.
Henry David Thoreau–Walden; or, Life in the Woods
A Prayer of Gratitude for Creation
God of the universe,
We thank You for Your many good gifts –
For the beauty of Creation and its rich and varied fruits,
For clean water and fresh air, for food and shelter, animals and plants.
Forgive us for the times we have taken the earth’s resources
And wasted what You have given us.
Transform our hearts and minds
So that we would learn to care and share,
To touch the earth with gentleness and with love,
Respecting all living things.
We pray for all those who suffer as a result of our waste,
greed and indifference,
And we pray that the day would come when everyone has enough
food and clean water.
Help us to respect the rights of all people and all species
And help us to willingly share your gifts
Today and always. Amen.
Fiona Murdoch–Eco-congregation Ireland