Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Efficient Allocation of Plants

Reply to: Bay Area Xeric Guerrilla Gardeners


The current or natural allocation of plants is perfect? Imagine we go to the Canary Islands and mark the boundary of Aeonium nobile with yellow caution tape. We'll have somebody regularly walk the perimeter to ensure that none of them escape. If a seedling is found outside the perimeter...then it would be summarily and promptly removed.

Hawaii doesn't have any native epiphytic orchids. This represents the best allocation of epiphytic orchids? Did they get the memo? From what I can tell they very irresponsibly release their seeds into the wind. Each capsule contains a gazillion it's only a matter of time before some lucky species manages to infiltrate Hawaii.

When a new island forms...and it doesn't have any plants...then it's perfect just as it is?

What about Johnny Appleseed? What was he thinking? Going around sowing apple seeds everywhere. Now the allocation of apples is horribly inefficient.

It's pretty much the same thing with the wild parrots that we have here in Southern California. When the fruit is ripe on my fig tree...each morning the parrots gorge themselves and then they fly around squawking and pooping the seeds everywhere. It seems like they want more fig trees. Maybe that's what they're squawking? "We need fig trees here...and here...and over there...and over there...!!!"

When I moved into my house...the front yard was all lawn. St Augustine had a monopoly on the space. Before this land was developed...I wonder how many different plants the space contained? I'd bet good money that it didn't have as many species as it does now.

The interest is greater diversity. Nature does not believe that California is diverse enough. As we speak...Mexican plants are making the journey to California. Lots of plants are migrating north. From the perspective of nature...there is no such a thing as "Mexico" or "California"...there's only space...and plants are all about the conquest of space.

So it's rather unnatural to try and preserve or conserve the current level of plant diversity here in California. It'd be like Noah closing the doors of his boat when it was only 1% full.

We've got space for Aeonium nobile and Aloe dichotoma. I think it would be irresponsible if I didn't sow some dichotoma seeds the next time I went on a hike. Unfortunately I don't have any. My dichotoma is painfully slow. Then again, I don't have any seeds from my Hercules either...and he's painfully fast. I do have a gazillion thraskii seedlings...but I'm pretty sure nature would deem them unfit to survive on their own...given that they require summer rain. That's where the diversity bottleneck is.

But it might be a fun experiment to see how long I could keep a thraskii seedling alive for in the foothills of Pasadena. I'd have to water it around once a week during summer. If it managed to grow above the surrounding scrub...I wonder how tall it could get before somebody removed it? Whoever removed it...would their motive be "preservation" or collection? Would anybody stop them on the way down and challenge the removal? "No no, it's ok, it's not a native. It's not invasive though...some idiot must have been watering it during summer."

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