As I explore the plants around me, I have been dismayed to discover that old favorites, plants I have enjoyed for decades, are not native. Examples are Butter and Eggs, Chicory, and Day Lilies. Et tu, Dames Rocket?
Coltsfoot has been well-behaved on our beach for 35 years, but is alien and listed as moderately invasive in NY, and I was debating whether to remove it.
Then I took a paddle to a 1/4 mile section of beach a little ways north which has been untouched for at least 40 years (20′ wide stone beach in front of a 30′ cliff, no access except by water). I expected to find a flourishing diversity. What I found was a beach completely covered, about 50% Grapvine (N – see the Key, upper right), 40% Virginia Creeper (N), and 10% Coltsfoot (A, MI). There were lots of native trees, but virtually nothing on the ground besides those three. We had much more diversity on our sparse beach.
I’m not sure exactly what the lesson here is – perhaps those plants are great for wildlife – but my takeaway was that, native or not, I wanted to control the grape and creeper that would like to take over our beach, and having seen the darker side of coltsfoot, I was ready to say goodbye.
I waffled back and forth a bit, but have more-or-less decided that I want to experiment with a completely-native beach, the exception being a wildflower garden in which I welcome anything that flowers and behaves.
I have mixed feelings as I pull up my well-loved Feverfew and Celandine.