We have gone ‘weed’ crazy in our pulling

I’d like to thank Terry Taylor for writing in about folks on an anti-weed campaign and do a lot of pulling of these proposed “weeds”

Re: “Gumweed isn’t actually a weed, but a native wildflower”, (Citizen, Sept. 9)

I’d like to thank Terry Taylor for writing in about folks that seem to be on an anti-weed campaign and do a lot of pulling of these proposed “weeds” here on Vancouver Island. Sadly, not many people are educated in what is a native plant versus the introduced exotic weeds. In fact, what is “native” is very much up for debate and it could be argued that we as a species are also an invasive “weed” species.

I would definitely like folks to know about some of our important native species such as goldenrod, gumweed, Oregon grape just to name a few, which are highly sought after by our native pollinators and the introduced honey bee as well. Wait a minute, aren’t honey bees an introduced species and therefore could be included in the “weed” species? But I digress.

It is interesting that we dictate what is bad or good when it comes to the environment, but as a native pollinator educator, I often find myself addressing questions to the general public about good pollinator food plants for our native insects, especially bees. Native bees will actually take advantage of whatever they can get their mouthparts on for food, and native plants are just not always found in available quantities to support their needs sufficiently.

The bees will gravitate to what is available and I cannot think of a more amenable food source than the dandelion, for example. The amount of energy and resources that our species spends on trying to eradicate just this particular great food source for native bees, so that we can have a perfect lawn consisting of yet another introduced plant, grass, is something that I address on a regular basis in my talks. Dandelions are a perfect food source for native bees, which can be encouraged to stay in the local area until the intended crop is in bloom. This works great in say, a fruit orchard, when we leave dandelions growing until the crop flowers arrive and then we mow the dandelions down so the bees switch to our favoured crop.

Where do we stop when it comes to dealing with introduced species?

Do we eradicate oxeye daisies, blackberries, apples, and other ubiquitous plants that we might assume are native and beneficial to us, or do we stick with the classic ones that we are told to hate like broom, tansy ragwort, or sweet clover?

I personally do not advocate performing a major assault on non-native species because I think it’s being species-ist as well as essentially futile. We are hypocritical from our homo-centric view point and besides, many of these invasive plants are merely filling a void where nothing native will grow.

Sweet clover is a perfect example of this on many roadsides throughout the interior of our province, something that Vancouver Island has yet to experience. To try and eradicate purple loosestrife, grey squirrels and Norwegian rats would take herculean efforts and unless it was a confined space, is basically impossible.

It may sound defeatist but perhaps dealing with the affects that our species has caused in the first place through education might be a way to question our actions, as well as accepting what we’ve caused.

Yes, gumweed is a native species and a highly valuable one at that for this time of year, so maybe the active weed pullers out there could learn to differentiate what is beneficial for our struggling native bees versus the species of invasive plants they find undesirable.

I’m glad we’re not talking about bothersome native species such as deer, elk or cougars. Once again, who’s caused that?

 

Gord Hutchings (Hutchings Bee Services)

Cobble Hill

Just Posted

Column David Suzuki: Large dams fail on climate change and Indigenous rights

Brazil has flooded large swaths of the Amazon for hydro dams

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington for the day

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, “high avalanche danger”

Capture the Rain: Underground cistern helps rural couple expand gardens

Sandy McPherson and Alan Philip are continually working towards low-impact living.

Column T.W. Paterson: Even belated recognition is better than none

According to U.S. Army records, Chips was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross

VIDEO: Jamboree Day a great success at Cowichan Lake arena

Lake Cowichan minor hockey, and its friends, families, and supporters are out in force for jamboree

Plan your Hometown Hockey weekend

Find your favourites on the Hometown Hockey schedule

Hometown Hockey: Cowichan Capitals events

On Jan. 20 there will be special features during the game for Hometown Hockey

Coming up in Cowichan: Rain workshop, Joseph Mairs Memorial, timely film

Participants are encouraged to bring their roof dimensions

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

Wind warning back in effect around Vancouver Island

80 km/h winds expected Saturday, Jan. 20, on east coast of Island, 100 km/h on west coast

Man receives four-year sentence for stabbing Good Samaritan near Qualicum Beach

Jeffrey Brian MacDonald sentenced to additional 242 days in jail

Most Read