I can hardly believe the idea for Botanicaust came to me only a year ago as I was in the garden battling spring weeds. My personal bane is chickweed. I till it, it comes back. I burn it, it re-sprouts. I pull it, and somehow any little root fiber returns in mere days as a new plant. If I let a single plant go to seed, I’ll regret it for the next twenty or more years.
And chickweed isn’t even considered a noxious weed. (Ask my daughter, who ate an entire bowl of it as a salad on a dare.)
Invasive weed species are far more insidious. Kudzu was introduced to control erosion and now engulfs much of the south. Purple loosestrife used to be a nice flower for the garden, but now it chokes waterways across the country. St. John’s Wort is a common herb currently used to treat depression, but is toxic to livestock and listed as a noxious weed in over twenty countries.
What do these plants have in common?
They were all introduced by man.
As I hunkered over a garden bed plucking chickweed into a five gallon bucket (at least my chickens will eat it!) I got to thinking – what if a plant evolved or was inadvertently created by man that had the worst of all weed qualities? It spreads by roots and cuttings, is self-fertile, and produces thousands of wind-dispersed seeds a season. It resists commercial herbicides, takes up available nutrients and moisture better than surrounding plants, and grows quickly to shade neighbors. It releases toxins to kill competing plants and causes allergic reactions in creatures that touch or eat it. It can survive flood, fire, or drought, alter its growth habit to suit to multiple conditions from tropical to arctic, desert to rainforest, high acidic soils or sweet.
I looked at my choked out onion sets and realized our food supply wouldn’t stand a chance.
But just like those weeds, mankind would find a way to survive.
© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.