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Invasive Plants - page 4
"Bringing Nature Home" by Douglas Tallamy, an enjoyable read, clearly explains the problems non-native plants cause for the ecosystems they invade, and presents helpful information we can use for attaining a practical solution.
All photos are copyrighted and may only be used with permission.
The Ash Bolete mushroom above, Gyrodon meruloides, provides a visible, above ground example of a complex underground relationship between deciduous trees, fungi and insects. In exchange for their honeydew secretions, the mycelium of this mushroom forms little capsules which surround and protect larvae of the leafcurl ash aphid, Meliarhizophagus fraxinifolii, which in turn, receive their sustenance by penetrating the roots and sucking the sap from the white ash tree.
Another contributor to soil fertility is one that, in addition to providing a surprising quantity of valuable trace elements, may well be the source of most of the water on this planet and even ultimately responsible for seeding earth with the first life forms; cometary and meteoric dust. Every day, upwards of one hundred fifty thousand tons of "space dust" falls to earth. While this seems like an extraordinary amount, when spread even over the surface of the entire planet, the average daily amount of accumulated dust over the past billion years would equal just a few inches. However, not all days are average. Several times in pre-history earth has collided with a number of large bodies; meteors, asteroids and comets. Recent research has revealed that many comets contain large amounts of H2O; water. It is probable that our world, the only planet in our solar system with abundant water so necessary for diverse life, received this water from extraterrestrial sources; a number of large objects that impacted the earth.
Other research over the past hundred years has discovered something else even more startling. Meteor fragments found preserved in the ice of Antarctica, contain amino acids and fragments of RNA, or ribonucleic acids, precursors of DNA. Some meteor fragments also appear to contain evidence of bacterial life.
There is a line in that great song, "Woodstock," by Crosby, Stills, and Nash that goes;
"We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon..."
How did they know?
What is a human being? While there are many ways of answering this question philosophically and from various religious and metaphysical persepectives, scientifically, meaning biologically and chemically, humans are much more than they first appear on the surface. We are not the individuals we think we are.
The average human body is inhabited by a huge number of organisms including mites, protozoa, bacteria, fungi, and archaea, collectively known as human microbiota. There are more than one-thousand different species of bacteria alone, living in our intestines, in the fluid surrounding our eyes, and on our skin. Most of these "bugs" are commensal, meaning they live with us, but neither receive any particular benefit, nor cause any harm. A few are capable of causing illness, but are kept in check by the sheer numbers of beneficial bacteria within us, and powerless against us as long as we are healthy. Most interesting are the organisms that live symbiotically within and upon us. One such bacteria is lactobaccillus, which lives in our intestines and makes it possible for us to digest dairy products. Anther mutualistic, symbiotic species of bacteria, also living in the gut, produces vitamin K, necessary for blood to clot. All told, there are more than one hundred trillion bacteria cells living with each of us at any given time, each doing its individual part in maintaining that intricately balanced ecosystem known as YOU!
As in the past, glaciers simplified the environment of earth's northern hemisphere by removing all plant and animal life, worldwide, humankind is now in the process of doing the same. Each time we cover a field of wildflowers with asphalt, we simplify. Each time we build a house, fence in the property, and replace the native vegetation with non-native, pest and disease resistant ornamental trees and shrubs, we simplify. Each time we apply synthetic chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, we simplify.
Each time we bring an exotic plant into a new environment, whether purposefully or by accident, we simplify...
Hopefully, as you have read this chapter on invasive plants, you have begun to understand the underlying point of this section, which is; everything, from the movement of the stars to the microscopic mite living on your left eyelid, is connected; connected to the stars through the diurnal and seasonal rhythms of the sun, moon, and other stellar bodies; connected chemically to both the stars and the earth by the trace elements and nutrients supplied by meteoric and volcanic dust; and connected biologically through the myriads of microbes that help create and maintain healthy soils, which in turn produce the plants that sustain all life on earth, including insects, animals, and humans.