Weeds, weedy butterflies and ruderals

Martin Bailey cmbb at sk.sympatico.ca
Fri Dec 14 10:43:22 EST 2001

Some of the native prairie - in these parts - that was ploughed up to grow
grain has since been seeded to alfalfa and clover for animal fodder.  These
hardy plants have since escaped their farmer  determined confines and now
grow spontaneously in roadside ditches.  At summer's end the highway
department has no trouble in finding folks who are willing to clean out
these right of ways at their own expense.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson commented,
a weed is "a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."

In the profusion of this ditch bound alfalfa, I find thousands of Alfalfa
butterflies (Colias eurytheme) and C. philodice.  Similarly, this past
summer I saw thousands upon thousands of Western and Checkered whites
fluttering for miles in the ditches before the ditches were put to human

 There are very few places on the planet where the only human disturbance is
that PhD candidate crawling around on hands and knees once every ten years
counting forbs. There are many more places like parking lots and putting
greens where any spontaneous growth of anything is rigorously suppressed..
In the midst are places where plants and bugs that were there before
agrarian societies took hold fight for a place with life forms that migrated
with agriculture.

The question I put to this august forum is: what is biodiversity?

Martin Bailey,

greetings from:  Weyburn, SK., Canada.
                         49.39N  103.51W


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