I figured I would get somebody's attention with this topic! A bit like throwing a match on gasoline. And North Carolina Mountain Woman, http://www.ncmountainwoman.blogspot.com/
I can't think of a better example of an import gone wild and a failed program of eradication than kudzu. Thanks for the suggestion! For the uninitiated, kudzu is a rampant legume which has been known to "eat" houses whole. I'm not joking.
Serious efforts at eradication have resulted in......growing both more kudzu, and kudzu's irrepressible reputation. In the South (U. S.) this creeping menace has outpaced all warnings and cautionery admonishments to become a metaphor for unwanted, uncontrolled growth of all kinds. It has completely defied attempts to banish it, and now, even Wikipedia gives it all manner of good publicity.
Go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kudzu to witness for yourself all the "good" qualities of Kudzu that are extolled on Wikipedia.
And guess what? Originally, it was "Made in China." (and Japan) But it has adapted handily to America's southern clime and now is considered almost a native species in most southern states. All hope of eliminating it or even controlling it vanished long ago, despite kudzu's poor public relations and the determined campaigns of plant patrols. And this is a perfect example of an invasive species, feared by all, stronger than ever today and more widely distributed here than ever could have been imagined.
Now, I know I may have lit a fire under a lot of my readers, but hear me out: We ALL want our own native species to survive and flourish. We are not, by choice, willing to give over to upstarts from other countries. But our own, personal hacking-and-thwacking is about the best we can do.
In today's economic climate, it is unlikely that native plant protection will score higher on the funding priority list than, say unemployment compensation, children's healthcare, food stamps....and, folks, I hate to say it but we are getting down to fewer and fewer choices as to what receives money. Life is not what it was even three years ago. And it's unlikely to improve financially anytime soon. In other words, we are mostly on our own when it comes to defending native species against non-natives.
I thought about tracking down a phone number for the non-native plant police and asking them to come out and check my farm for loosestrife and ragweed just to see what any such organization would say. But I couldn't locate a number for them. I found the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administraton, the FBI, the National Reponse Center for Chemical, Oil Spills and Chemical/Biological Terrorism, the State Emergency Spill Notification, the State Police, the U. S. Marshal, the U. S. Secret Service, and the Arson & Explosives Division of the Fire Marshal's office. They've all been pretty busy lately. Significantly, I did not find a U. S. Plant Patrol. Does this tell us something?
And I wonder how many of us will care about plants and plant protection when push comes to shove and we have to choose between saving the plants and saving the children...
So the globalization of plantlife is, IMHO, inevitable, as the lines blur. It's my thought that serious attempts to control non-native plant species --just as with non-native animal species like the Zebra Mussel and the Anacondas now in Florida's Everglades, is wildly optimistic. I believe that globalization is inevitable on every level.
The response to this subject was fascinating. Julia in New Zealand, North Carolina Mountain Woman in NC, Ruta in North Devon UK, Dave in Western Virginia, Barbara in Kentucky--all of you had marvelous comments. We share so much, don't we, even though we are miles apart!
Please feel free to respond!