Monday, June 08, 2015

An Invasive Species

Such beauty as they grow along the side of paths and the edges of fields.

They add such color, standing out against the green and reflecting the bright sun.

So I posted some pictures I took on Facebook. I thought they were phlox.


It's Dames Rocket.. and we don't need its colors.

A friend caught the pictures and added a link from the UW-Extension that cleared things up.

You have probably noticed dame’s rocket beautiful blooms, but did you know that this beautiful plant is also invasive? Dame’s rocket was introduced to North America in the 1600’s. It is often found in moist, wooded areas, but has the ability to also invade open areas. The plant’s three-month-long blooming period and ability to set abundant seed have contributed to its spread.

Dame’s rocket is often confused with garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), because the flower colors, clustered blooms and bloom time are similar.
Well, at least I'm not alone in my mistake. But it did get me thinking about the issue. Such "invasive species" can be- and often are- beautiful. Like I noticed as I drove around town the day I took the pictures, they seem to be a "value-add" to the scenery. But they have difficulty maintaining appropriate boundaries. They take over. They even change the ecology by pushing away native life.

That got me to thinking, so I looked up a definition:
Invasive Species:
--a plant or animal that is not native to a specific location (an introduced species); and has a tendency to spread, which is believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy and/or human health.
Yep. It made sense- in some ways that are not comfortable.

Is it possible that the most "invasive species" on the planet is us? Homo sapiens sapiens? Just our very expansion and obliteration of eco-systems, polluting water and air thus damaging even our own health would certainly fit the definition.

I know there are those who can quote the charge to Adam and Eve to have dominion over the earth and subdue it, but until the last 150 years that could not mean destruction of the very place we are living. Then, when we do cause severe damage to the ecology, say through climate change, we blame it on the earth itself.

And that is not even using the examples of Europeans devastating the native human life of the Americas or enslaving other humans.It doesn't begin to describe the impact of war or the insatiable drive to expand territory.

Yes, we can be beautiful and creative, strong and hopeful, but those Dames Rockets along the roads and paths are also beautiful. But what have they already replaced?

Have we humans become an out-of-control species, a curse on the very planet we exist on? Are we truly the most destructive invasive species around?

If so, the very thing that has made us so hellishly powerful may also be what can turn things around. We have self-awareness, intelligence and the ability to think. Cognitive awareness may give us the chance to work on these problems and call the behaviors into question.

We can only hope it happens in time.

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