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(ferns) Plants becoming pests, a little bit off-topic

  • Subject: [ferns] (ferns) Plants becoming pests, a little bit off-topic
  • From: "Brian Swale" <bj@caverock.net.nz>
  • Date: Tue, 2 Mar 2004 13:33:01 +1300

Hi folks

Rufino wrote
>  Likewise, many plants, even ecologically conservative plants that 
> may be rare or even endangered in their natural range, can become invasive pests
> in new environments where they are released from the diseases, herbivores,
> parasites, and other ecologic constraints that may have kept them in check in
> their natural range. A case in point is Pinus radiata, a vanishing relict from a
> time when the American west was more moist. It's natural range is limited to a
> few colonies on the Pacific coast of California and the view is that it is a
> species that was in the process of going extinct. In the southern hemisphere,
> including South Africa and New Zealand, it is a green cancer that overruns
> thousands of square acres of natural habitat and it outcompetes and eliminates
> nearly all native plants that stand in its path.

I'd like to point out that Pinus radiata is the basis of very valuable forest-
based industries, is very amenable to management and does not run wild 
over the country in New Zealand. It has an excellent many-purposed timber. 
P. radiata enables economic use to be made of lands that currently have no 
other economic use.

Similarly, Douglas-fir from North America is valued in NZ.

Maybe the most surprising relict Californian species to grow well in New 
Zealand, is Cupressus macrocarpa which is a valued shelter species and 
yields a much valued, durable and aromatic timber.

The one North American pine species now banned here is Pinus contorta 
which has great ability to thrive and spread over high altitude tussock 
grassland where the climate is cold and tends to extremes. This colonisation 
it is capable of is disliked by those who want to conserve the tussock 
grasslands in a near-natural state.

Ferns and other plants such as orchids grow quite well under older pine and 
fir plantations and there is one noted orchid reserve near Taupo under P. 

Brian Swale

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