A native non-native

I have some reflections on Lorraine Johnson’s “Natural invaders” article on invasive non-native plants [Spring 2011, page 22].

It would be wonderful if nurseries in Ontario began to label native plants that are good for sustaining birds and other animals as “eco-friendly.” Education would be a necessary component, as gardeners would need to be convinced that holes in the leaves of their plants indicate not impending doom for the garden, but a thriving, healthy ecosystem.

Another reflection is that we need a nuanced approach to plants that may pose a threat to our ecosystems. We need to know which plants are the most detrimental so we can properly direct finite resources towards lessoning their impact.

A nuanced approach would probably find that black locust is not nearly as credible a threat as the other invasive plants featured in the article. The black locust is native to the eastern United States, as far north as Pennsylvania. But it has not arrived from offshore like the other invasive plants. So chances are black locust is fed upon by a full suite of native insects that in turn feed birds and other vertebrates. Consequently, it is probably far less damaging to the environment than plants that have arrived from Asia and Europe.

The tree proposed as an alternative to black locust – honey locust – also merits comment. Honey locust barely enters southern Ontario in the extreme southwest. Many parts of southern Ontario are geographically closer to the range of black locust than they are to [that of] honey locust. Is planting honey locust instead of black locust appropriate simply because its range squeaks into the political jurisdiction we call Ontario? In reality, is honey locust not as foreign to Toronto, Kingston and Ottawa as black locust?

Don Scallen, Georgetown, Ontario

Brake for bobolinks

While living in Glen Williams, Halton Hills, I was renting a house on a 60-hectare property that had two mating pairs of bobolinks. After reading your article on the bobolink online [Summer 2010, page 24], I joined Ontario Nature and have since purchased a membership for my granddaughter.

Armed with your article and others, I approached the farmer who leased the hayfields on our property and explained that if he cut our fields a bit later, the fledglings would have a chance to survive. He had about four large hayfields at the time, and he agreed to cut ours last.

My point is that we can all do our part, and cooperating made us both feel very gratified. I think your alliance with various farm groups will help, but we also need one-on-one contact with farmers to make them aware. Keep up the good work.

Bill Shepherd, Glen Williams, Ontario
Executive Director, OREA Centre for Leadership Development

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