Traffic in plants and plant seeds

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Fri Sep 18 21:17:54 EDT 1998

For what it's worth, I don't think that the analogy of free-will 
regarding plants, is so hot.  In the last few years ecologists have 
called attention to the huge problem that exotic plants, particularly 
invasive species of exotics,  pose to natural vegetation.  Kudzu is just 
an icon for dozens of invasive species that are changing landscapes 
around the world.  I recently planted a Lantana, and horrified a visitor 
from Hawaii where this plant is a devastating weed (indeed I saw a huge 
monoculture of this plant in Volcanos NP). Fortunately Lantana is not 
hardy with is (New Jersey), but lots of exotics are. 
	Florida is a caricature of invasive plants and the irony is that 
some officially designated pest-species are still being sold by 
nurseries to home horticulturists.  
	There are conflicting cults among butterfly-gardeners about 
whether or not to include or even tolerate non-natives species in a 
garden (even excluding Buddleia). 
	The restricting of traffic in many plants is probably a good (if 
too late) idea. 
	In this regard, the Agricultural List Server is bursting with 
controversy over bio-engineered seeds which produce plants that are 
productive of food but effectively sterile (to keep farmers from 
harvesting the seed for future plantings).  Likewise some tropical fish 
farmers are producing only male fish, to prevent hobbyists from breeding 
their own fish).  Maybe that's a good idea for horticulturists, to keep 
exotics in check. 

Mike Gochfeld

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