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Re: Your Aroid Society Newsletter

  • Subject: Re: Your Aroid Society Newsletter
  • From: brian lee <lbmkjm@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2011 01:43:41 -0700 (PDT)

Dear Jason and All,


I always enjoy reading about plants, growing plants, and doing what I can to preserve plants in-situ....in other words, their habitat and cradle of evolution.  Without the habitat and all of the associated flora and fauna and geology; the majority of cultivated endangered plants become sad relicts that are doomed to a lonely, prolonged, and delayed extinction.  Most will become extinct before we find out they were distinct.  More cryptic species are being discovered and ecotypes are under appreciated. 

Hawaii is the extinction capital of the United States, and depending on whose opinion you read, the world.   I have been an advocate for protection and preservation of  Hawaiian endemic and indigenous flora and fauna for many years.  I do not believe we can reclaim pre-contact perfection, so I am preparing for a future of a mix of non-invasive exotic species along with native species in a largely constructed and managed environment.  That is our reality.  Yesterday, I was on an intense hiking expedition as a volunteer participant to preserve endemic biodiversity in Hawaii.  Three people in our party climbed to the end of the regular trail and refused to drop down into the hanging valley as they thought it was too dangerous to descend.  Once we made it to our destination, we were in a mini-Eden full of endangered species in a lost world.  We saw rare native honeycreepers....birds that diversified in much greater variety than Darwin's most famous finches in the Galapagos.  This little spot of heaven was only the size of one McMansion that crowds the lowlands.  The climb out was intense.  If you can imagine climbing a greasy pole for an extended period...it was very exhausting.  Slipping was not an option as the waterfall we were over had a drop of a hundred feet vertically or more.  True wilderness is not so easy to find or access.  I am getting older.

Jason, you mention former abundance.  I have seen former abundance reduced to extinction many times in my five decades.  As a kid and into the late 1970's, I could find certain endemic snails so commonly, that it looked like rice was thrown in loose abandon over the bushes.  The snails have completely disappeared and now, the plants are disappearing.  Let me say that these snails were not pest species.  They ate sooty mold that covered the leaves or dried, partially decomposed vegetation.  Some species were absolutely gorgeous...little jewels.  Hawaii had over 800 taxa and now, there are a few dozen left in very few numbers.  There are many similar stories of plants and yesterday, I was looking at the very last known plant of a species...in the wild or cultivation.  It was in bud.  Will it survive?  I cannot say.  It may become one more story of many I have witnessed.

All we have is hope.  Our future is only bright if we save some of the variation of plants and animals we have left.  The only place for them is in their original habitats.  Conservation through cultivation is one tool, but, it is not a substitute for preservation of the original ecosystem.  I love aroids, but, Hawaii had no endemic or indigenous Araceae.  My interest is in non-invasive species of aroids.  I am not trying to return to an aroid free Hawaii.  I do believe in moving forward with knowledge and responsibility.  Can you imagine a world without tigers, rhinos, and pandas?  How about a world without Amorphophallus titanum, Philodendron biribiriense, and Anthurium kamemotoanum?  It may happen. What is the world without wilderness?  Is wilderness important?  I love it.  I hope you do too.

Aloha(" in the presence of the breath of life"),


From: Jason Hernandez <jason.hernandez74@yahoo.com>
To: "aroid-l@www.gizmoworks.com" www.gizmoworks.com>
Sent: Fri, June 17, 2011 5:21:22 PM
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Your Aroid Society Newsletter

I, too, enjoyed the newsletter.  However, in Tom Croat's narrative of his expedition to the Guianas, I couldn't help but notice how often he referred to a place that was remote but is now connected by road to developed areas, or that was wild but is now being developed.  In the short term, this makes for convenience in collecting new plants; but it is part of the long-term habitat loss that makes plants (and everything else) rare.  In this IAS newsletter we see in microcosm the global environmental crisis.
Haven't we all noticed this?  Can we not all think of some of our favorite nature places, now disappeared under pavement, lawns, or industry?  Can we not all think of some plant or animal we used to see a lot of in our younger days, that has now become a special, memorable sighting in the "islands" of preserved nature?  I certainly can.  And when I read the nature narratives of the past, even 40 or 50 years ago, I find it hard to believe there could ever have been such abundance.
As plant lovers, we are surely concerned about all this.  We can grow our prized specimens, and that is good; but if they come to exist only in cultivated collections, apart from their ecological connections to the world, they, and we, are diminished.
Jason Hernandez

Message: 2
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 09:01:39 +0930
From: "Greg Ruckert" <greg@alpacamanagement.com>
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Your Aroid Society Newsletter
To: <huntington@aroid.org>, "Discussion of aroids"
Message-ID: <7CEE2D4631C7474BAB254E7529653F6F@greg32d9eee6c2>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Recently I was put in my place on Facebook by an American aroid collector who felt that joining the IAS was a waste of money.
His comment was why would he spend his money on soomething he might only use a couple of times.  I believe he spends thousands of dollars buying plants each year.

Well, I believe that the $25 annually is the best money that an aroid collector could spend if they genuinely want to learn about their plants.

The latest newsletter is fantastic.  I congratulate the contributors and everyone that had anything to do with putting it together.

Thank you for your efforts I (and I am sure many others) really appreciate it.

Greg Ruckert,
South Australia
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