Friday, March 12, 2010

You call that a weed? ...

THIS - is a weed.

It positively looms.


I'm betting you know that old line (45 second clip) from the Crocodile Dundee movies, though the reference is now falling into the dark backward and abysm of time.

In February and March, everywhere you drive around Santa Cruz, the most glorious yellow blossoms cover trees towering over the roadsides large...

and small...
Up close the blossoms and leaves have a charm, a delicacy...

--- that belies their pernicious nature. Well, pernicious presence, not nature. In themselves, they are lovely, as are many weeds: It is only out of their native context (south eastern Australia) that they are pernicious. Read this extract from cal-ipc.org ... and weep:
Acacia dealbata (silver wattle) is a tree (family Fabaceae) found in the coastal ranges, San Francisco Bay area, and south coast of California. It favors disturbed places in coastal prairies, riparian areas and coniferous forests. Silver wattle is often confused with green wattle (Acacia decurrens), but is distinguishable by the small, silvery hairs that grow on its twigs. It spreads via rhizomes and seeds, and easily resprouts after being cut. Acacia dealbata changes soil chemistry by fixing nitrogen, and the plants’ fallen leaves may have allelopathic effects that prevent the growth of native understory plants. Like many acacias, silver wattle is commonly planted as an ornamental.
Yet, their rate of penetration may not be as bad as it looks. I also read this from a report linked to the cal-ipc site:
Describe rate of spread: Populations are expanding, but not rapidly yet. Spreading locally (less than 1 mile) along riverbanks and roadsides, plus new patches from seed and rhizomes into intact areas.
So driving along the roads, we see the worst of it. I still don't like it, not one little bit.

Nor do I like the broom, or the gorse, - or the Oxalis pes-caprae. All yellow bloomers, all blooming in early spring. I wonder why they're all yellow and all early? (and all here!)

13 comments:

Christine said...

I hear people saying how lovely they look all the time these days. Not wanting to scare them with grumpy old garden lady ranting, I just sigh...

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I despise these trees, almost as much as I hate broom. My allergies run amok this time of year, and I'm happy to blame their blazing blooms for my misery. When I drove down 17 to hwy 1 last week I wanted to scream at the towering walls of yellow on each side of the freeway...it gets especially bad down near Pasatiempo...it just looks invasive, even if it's only locally so.

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

ya, the yellow if funny... i never pondered that. i wonder where we could find more info about that..?

Noelle said...

Oh that is so sad. I spent many summers in the mountains above Santa Cruz and it is one of my most favorite places on earth.

wiseacre said...

Sometimes rhizomes are a dirty word.

I've got the cure. Too bad I can't bottle sub zero winters.

Elephant's Eye said...

Yup, that's a familiar sight. A problem we share. And a childhood with hay-fever from the flowers. South Africa fights back with an Australian bug which infests the seeds, and inexorably destroys the trees.

healingmagichands said...

In Bremerton it was the scotch broom that was a scourge. We should all be careful how we plant invasive exotics. . . Anyone who has tried to eradicate one learns exactly what "invasive" and "Persistent" mean.

NellJean said...

I weed by color. Blue gets to stay. Pink gets a short reprieve while I pull the yellows followed by the white.

Gail said...

Beautiful trouble...we have our own versions of not so fab beauties...Paulownia, Kudzu, bush honeysuckles...all brought to the states because they were beautiful, smelled good or made fantastic ground covers! Yikes...The hallmark of successful invasives...are all the characteristics you listed. But on a happier note...I loved seeing the clip again! gail

Country Mouse said...

Christine, I can relate to the "grumpy old lady" moniker - I find myself disabusing people of their notions likewise and not all appreciate having their aesthetic pleasure thus diminished. (Sorry for the diction - I'm reading victorian lit lately!)

CVF - sorry about your allergies. I get mine in fall and don't know what causes it.

DGG - I asked Jeffrey Caldwell about the yellow early bloomers and he didn't know. I'll keep poking about.

Noelle, fear not to hike Big Basin, it's just gorgeous. And shoot an email if you are ever around, you are welcome to visit!

Wiseacre - it's been in the low forties at night and to us it feels like the arctic! We are such woosses!

Elephant's Eye - I did read that it is invasive in S Africa too. I do always worry about introducing a bug to fight an introduced plant. Australia is an object lesson in Man's folly in that regard. But since things are already messed up and if people take care to test... I know they are doing something similar in the US, introducing some bug to eat some other bug... I forget now. My memory!!

Wiseacre, ne'er a truer word was said!

Except HealingMagicHands's comment!!

Nell Jean that's a unique plan of attack! I think it's good to focus on eliminating thoroughly what weed you decide to eliminate, and focusing on one thing at at time can have a lot of benefits I think. It is an alternative to the Bradley method perhaps, for smaller areas.

Gail - ya we need a Crocodile Dundee of the vegetable kingdom to deal with those baddies. Crocodile Dundee was one of my guilty pleasures! It was fun to see again. Paul Hogan was such a bad actor -- and such a likeable screen presence.

Kate said...

Our worst is the noxious weed, Canadian Thistle. Beautiful bright pink blossoms that get non-gardeners excited enough to pick them and spread their seeds. Those invasive seeds can lie dormant for 50 years... waiting for a good rain and the opportunity to take over entire meadows.

Brad said...

The Oakland hills are covered with yellow these days. Tall yellow = acacia, short yellow = broom. It would be pretty if I didn't know how invasive it all was.

lostlandscape (James) said...

I don't think we have that acacia, but we do have A. cyclops. Same bad news. And to the yellow plague list I'd add black mustard that's long-established and Saharan mustard that's spreading big time.