Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Welcome to the first meeting of the B.B.B.F.F.B.F.

"Good evening everyone. And welcome to the first meeting of the B.B.B.F.F.B.F. – the Burning Bush Best Friend Forever Benevolent Fellowship.

"I apologize for the cold, dark accommodations but being as we are an advocacy group for an officially declared invasive plant and therefore of necessity an underground organization we will be holding all of our gatherings in this abandoned root cellar at an undisclosed location on the once active Wilkus Farm property.

"It is especially fitting that we meet now as this is the time of year when Euonymus alatus compactus is in its glory – displaying its spectacular red fall foliage for all to see, putting to shame those other pretenders at autumnal flamboyance such as Hosta, Bloody Geranium, Ferns, Switchgrass, Blue Star and Peony.
"I ask you – is this ostentatious exhibition the behavior of an invasive? (One of Connecticut’s Top ten in fact)

"And I answer, as any intelligent adult would respond (while lying on my back and pounding my hands and feet on the ground) – “No! No! No! No! No! No!”

"So what is an invasive anyway? To me it is something that (a) silently sneaks into an area, (b) blends in with its surroundings, then (c) slowly and insidiously takes over.

"Does BB meet those criteria? Here is what the DCNR Invasive Exotic Plant Tutorial on says about it.

"(a) 'Winged euonymus was [intentionally] introduced into the USA from northeastern Asia about 1860 for use as an ornamental shrub. [It did not arrive furtively on the underside of a wooden shipping pallet nor did hide in the hold of a tramp steamer and crawl onto shore.]

"(b) This shrub is one of the great beauties of the autumn season. [Admittedly though the rest of the time the BB lives in relative anonymity.] It is best left unpruned although it can be cut back if you have space issues. The shrub is not at all fussy about soil requirements (except for excessive wet areas) and it has no significant pest problems. It also transplants very easily. It is truly a maintenance free shrub. [It can be seen in at least two or three yards on every street in Wethersfield.]

"(c) While it behaves well in suburban areas, burning-bush planted near woodlands, mature second-growth forests, and pastures can be a problem. It has escaped from cultivation in the Northeast and Midwest, notably in Connecticut, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. The earliest evidence of naturalized populations of winged euonymus in eastern Pennsylvania dates from the 1960s. Today it is found with increasing frequency in moist forests throughout eastern counties.'

"But whose fault is this alleged infestation? Do the little BB seeds tiptoe in the dark away from their suburban homes and into the surrounding woods? I don’t think so!

"Seeds do fall rather prodigiously near the base of the plant, leading to more little BB’s clustered around the mother bush. Other BB seeds are spread by birds, which are attracted to them by their nutritious, fleshy, red covering. Seeds dispersed this way germinate easily and spread rapidly.

"But whose fault is this? Can the BB help it if birds of all feathers are fatally attracted? (“Don’t blame me for being beautiful.”) It’s just a simple evolutionary device for preserving the species. It’s the birds that go overboard.

"B.B.B.F.F.B.F. says 'B.B.N.B.B. (Ban Birds Not Burning Bushes)'”.

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