Invasive Species – A Matter of Perspective

Invasives – A Matter of Perspective
Invasive plants typically get a bad rap. But that’s not always the case. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Barney: If I were trying to protect a forest and protect the native flora, I might have a perspective that all non-native plants are bad. However, if I was a beekeeper or a forager, I might have a totally different perspective on the same plants, that maybe they provide food source or a building material that wouldn’t otherwise be available. It truly is a matter of perspective in many cases on how we view invasive species.

Invasive Plant Ecologist Jacob Barney.

Barney: From the beekeepers perspective, there’s a food source that’s available when there’s few other flowers. There’s a really good example of that in California. Yellow star thistle. This is a really problematic rangeland plant. It’s got spikes and it’s terrible for cattle. However, it produces flowers at the time of the year when basically nothing else does. In the dry season in California it makes a great food source for bees. There’s whole economies around selling yellow star thistle honey.

JM Building material, for example..

One of the prime examples of a building material would be giant reed, arundo donax. Not only was it used as a building material all across the world, but it also serves as the source of the reed on a woodwind instrument – clarinets and saxophones. It’s been widely introduced. It was planted intentionally in the streams in southern California to stabilize stream banks. Now it is so common and so dominant, it is drying out the rivers. It causes fires in these locations and it’s extremely expensive to manage, up to $25,000 an acre. A terrible problematic species from that perspective, but it also provides some services in the music industry.

JM: I think we need less woodwind players is what you’re saying.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.

Invasive Species - A Matter of Perspective

Why clarinet players love a certain problematic plant.
Air Date:04/21/2017
Scientist:
Transcript:

Invasives - A Matter of Perspective
Invasive plants typically get a bad rap. But that's not always the case. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Barney: If I were trying to protect a forest and protect the native flora, I might have a perspective that all non-native plants are bad. However, if I was a beekeeper or a forager, I might have a totally different perspective on the same plants, that maybe they provide food source or a building material that wouldn't otherwise be available. It truly is a matter of perspective in many cases on how we view invasive species.

Invasive Plant Ecologist Jacob Barney.

Barney: From the beekeepers perspective, there's a food source that's available when there's few other flowers. There's a really good example of that in California. Yellow star thistle. This is a really problematic rangeland plant. It's got spikes and it's terrible for cattle. However, it produces flowers at the time of the year when basically nothing else does. In the dry season in California it makes a great food source for bees. There's whole economies around selling yellow star thistle honey.

JM Building material, for example..

One of the prime examples of a building material would be giant reed, arundo donax. Not only was it used as a building material all across the world, but it also serves as the source of the reed on a woodwind instrument - clarinets and saxophones. It's been widely introduced. It was planted intentionally in the streams in southern California to stabilize stream banks. Now it is so common and so dominant, it is drying out the rivers. It causes fires in these locations and it's extremely expensive to manage, up to $25,000 an acre. A terrible problematic species from that perspective, but it also provides some services in the music industry.

JM: I think we need less woodwind players is what you're saying.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.