Why should we only plant "indigenous" trees when the original trees were worthless.

Why should we only plant “indigenous” trees when the original trees were worthless.

They are plowing down perfectly good stands of trees because they aren’t “local”. So what?

The “original” shape of this area was desert. Now it’s beatiful, because of imported water. Sure the “original” trees are drought-tolerant, but they were also so scarce, and with such small root systems that the area turned to desert in the first place.

Every square inch of land mass was once bare of trees. What was the “natural” tree? Whatever caught hold first. There isn’t a Magestic Master Plan of Nature in Balance.

Bull-ony. Nature has never been “in balance” and never will be. New species are always migrating, and taking over the lands they find, and have since the dawn of plantlife.

It would depend on the tree.

Some trees, and plants, have evolved defence mechanisms so effective that the indiginous flora and fauna cannot cope with them. The few that can often have a niche where they overbreed which causes its own problems.

In the UK we have been replanting many of the coniferous stands with what was supposed to be indiginous oaks, beech, etc.

To get commercial quantities of saplings and seeds foresters turned to countries such as Germany but unexpectedly these trees did not do as well as the natives, with slower growth rates and less resistance to disease.

It seems that deciduous trees have a ‘clock’ built into them which controls the timing of growth, leaf-shedding, pollination etc to fall in line with seasonal changes.
Up to then it was thought that the tree timetable was determined solely by external conditions.
Also the British climate is colder and damper than Germany’s.

These trees do not do as well as native trees but because they are planted en-masse there is no scope for the natives to get in.

There is also an argument with many plants that there have been seeds carried to other areas and failed to compete with the native floras.

Exporting non-indigenous species has a history of disaster examples might be the Rhodadendron which was imported by Victorian gardeners but their leaf mould kills any undergrowth or the Canadian pondweed which is now causing problems on our waterways.There is also some Japanese thing which looks wonderful when in flower but chokes up water meadows,is poisonous to livestock and is incredibly difficult to remove as the root corms go down over 6feet.

Some desertification can be directly attributed to man planting innapropriate species in land that cannot support them.
In Australia deserts have been irrigated and the results have been spectacular but unfortunately in many areas underground salt deposits which were locked in by the arid climate have been brought to the surface and made the land worthless again.

The final analysis is ‘what do you call worthless?’
You may mean that there is no commercial value or that there is no aesthetic appeal but my view is that each species forms a part of an ecosystem that cannot easily be substituted.

And Salt to You wrote:

Where is this happening? And who is “they”?

and who defines “worthless”?

Just as a WAG, but isn’t there some effort underway to xeriscape most of the American Southwest? That would mean replacing introduced flora with more drought-tolerant “native” plants. This would free up more freshwater resources for drinking and less wasted keeping people’s gardens pretty.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong about the source of the Original Rant…

You are making an unsubstantiated value judgment. Maybe the original trees were indeed worthless, maybe they were not. Maybe the area is beautiful now, maybe it was beautiful before. Why should your values dictate? There is some reason to believe your values are either incorrect or unimportant (in the grand scheme of things).

No, he’s making a value judgement from the point of view of a human being who lives in that area. Before there was a desert that makes living a difficult proposition. Now there is water and lush vegetation that makes living rather easy and more pleasant. I wouldn’t say that qualifies as being unsubstantiated.


It may have some underpinning, but it’s still questionable. I, for one, have a certain fondness for deserts. In any case, at this point and time I don’t think that human survival is the issue as much as aesthetics is.

Why should we only plant “indigenous” trees when the original trees were worthless.

Well, why are they worthless? Because it’s not a 60 foot high maple?

Some non native trees are known pests. Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven) is one example. It does exceedingly well in deserts, and was often promoted in those areas because they did well. Unfortunately, Ailanthus is extremely weedy and often pushes out native flora. In California, we have many beautiful and native trees (oaks, pines, madrone), that cant compete with the non-native Eucalyptus trees, mostly because eucalypts have dense shade, and their leaves contain chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants. Not to mention they also suck up large quantities of water, and ignite in fires readily. It really would help if we knew what types of trees that are being bulldozed were.

Oh I see, so a plant’s value is in the aesthetics, not in how well they help to conserve water, or provide habitat and food for native animals and insects (and I do think desert trees are beutiful. Palo verdes and Mesquites, as well as Desert Ironwood have their own character and charm). Also, why the hell would you move to the desert if you want an English garden? Something that i find so funny when people move out west from the east. Sometimes I think this goes through their heads: “boy, that hill looks beautiful, all wild and free, i think i’ll move here, bulldoze the native shrubs and trees and plant rhododendrons and maples!”. It’s funny so many people insist on working against nature instead of with it (which is actually easier).

On desert trees, Most desert trees that I know of have VERY extensive root systems. Mesquite for instance is known to have roots that can penetrate at least 20 feet into the soils. Dont blame the trees, it’s not the plants that caused the desert (Climactic change is what. How do you explain the Sahara, hmm?). These plants evolved to cope with the dryness of the desert. As far as i’m concerned that argument is silly. That’s like saying South East Asia is tropical because it had palm trees. I suggest you learn about desert ecology before you claim that these trees have no worth.

Hmm, you are forgetting, most of the species people want in their yards wouldnt stand a chance in the desert without human help. I’d like to see you grow most common plants youcan buy in nurseries, and let the annual precipitation water them. Good luck in having a beautiful garden that way. I’m sure most people who move to the desert wouldnt know how to live there either ;).

Yes, but introducing weedy species doesnt help the plants that evolved to live there at all (if theyre being bulldoezed it sounds to me like theyre weedy species, or the city just wants to plant natives. Nothing wrong with that AFAIC). You’re forgetting these trees that people grow in their gardens didnt move their on their own, they were planted. Dont mistake natural plant migrations with human cultivation. They arent the same thing.