Euonymus alatus

| 18 Comments
IMG_2352_Euonymus_600.JPG

Euonymus alatus – burning bush.

18 Comments

Ick ick…bleh bleh!

Sorry…that’s my knee jerk reaction to all plants that are consider non-native invasives in the US. Beautiful bushes (and nice pic) however.

Alas, I had no idea it is invasive; there are many around Boulder, not least on some city property. At least no one noticed the typing error, now corrected, in the title.

Well, all of life is invasive. How invasive is it? There are three criteria that humans use for invasiveness (not mutually exclusive) -

1) Aesthetic - Displaces one or more species considered by humans to be aesthetically superior. e.g. English Sparrow displacing American Bluebird. I don’t mean this to belittle aesthetic concerns about the environment. They are valid.

2) Commercial - Interferes with agriculture, fishery, hunting, or some other human commercial activity.

3) Ecological - With the caveat that only Homo sapiens threatens the entire biosphere, some invasive species can severely disrupt some habitats.

I will admit, I’m not very militant when it comes to talking to folk about invasive species, but since I spend 2 weekends out of every month helping to remove invasives from a wildlife preserve, I have a knee-jerk reaction to them when I see them. As invasive plants go, Winged Euonymus isn’t the most prolific, but as the article you linked to notes, it can displace local species that offer better local wildlife nutrition. I personally happen to think there are native plants that are aesthetically more attractive (such as Staghorn Sumac and Itea virginica (“Little Henry” Sweetspire), but of course that’s just being subjective.

Robin said:

Ick ick…bleh bleh!

Sorry…that’s my knee jerk reaction to all plants that are consider non-native invasives in the US. Beautiful bushes (and nice pic) however.

I’m always intrigued as to how an evolutionist determines a species to be “invasive.” Isn’t the plant just competing in the wild like every other plant? What makes the burning bush’s appeal as an ornamental shrubbery less “nobel” as a fortuitous survival strategy than that of the less successful “native” shrubs it out competes?

If it’s because human activity and not “natural forces” brought the “icky” plant over from Asia does that mean that human activities aren’t “natural?” How can that be if humans are just one branch of a “naturally” occurring “tree-of-life?”

Additionally, at what point in time was the environment deemed to be “native” and any subsequent species which enter that environment deemed to be “invasive?” If you don’t propose that all living things were originally present in the environment they now occupy wasn’t everything at one time invasive?

Why should one be supportive of human activity removing this species from an environment? That seem to be picking winners in a very unnatural way. If you expect that we all agree on your designation of what is a desirable species you must refer to some higher non-material authority of what is good-or-bad, or beautiful-or-ugly.

From an evolutionists standpoint “invasiveness” must be an entirely subjective label. Better not hope for any support from your evolutionist friends here … at least if their intellectually honest.

I will allow one comment from Fittest Meme and one response from any one commenter; anything else will go to the bathroom wall or be unpublished.

fittest meme said:

Robin said:

Ick ick…bleh bleh!

Sorry…that’s my knee jerk reaction to all plants that are consider non-native invasives in the US. Beautiful bushes (and nice pic) however.

I’m always intrigued as to how an evolutionist determines a species to be “invasive.” Isn’t the plant just competing in the wild like every other plant? What makes the burning bush’s appeal as an ornamental shrubbery less “nobel” as a fortuitous survival strategy than that of the less successful “native” shrubs it out competes?

If it’s because human activity and not “natural forces” brought the “icky” plant over from Asia does that mean that human activities aren’t “natural?” How can that be if humans are just one branch of a “naturally” occurring “tree-of-life?”

Additionally, at what point in time was the environment deemed to be “native” and any subsequent species which enter that environment deemed to be “invasive?” If you don’t propose that all living things were originally present in the environment they now occupy wasn’t everything at one time invasive?

Why should one be supportive of human activity removing this species from an environment? That seem to be picking winners in a very unnatural way. If you expect that we all agree on your designation of what is a desirable species you must refer to some higher non-material authority of what is good-or-bad, or beautiful-or-ugly.

From an evolutionists standpoint “invasiveness” must be an entirely subjective label. Better not hope for any support from your evolutionist friends here … at least if their intellectually honest.

Google zebra mussels and answer your own questions.

ANy further responses from me to FM will be on the bathroom wall, where he belongs.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

fittest meme said:

Robin said:

Ick ick…bleh bleh!

Sorry…that’s my knee jerk reaction to all plants that are consider non-native invasives in the US. Beautiful bushes (and nice pic) however.

I’m always intrigued as to how an evolutionist determines a species to be “invasive.” Isn’t the plant just competing in the wild like every other plant? What makes the burning bush’s appeal as an ornamental shrubbery less “nobel” as a fortuitous survival strategy than that of the less successful “native” shrubs it out competes?

Good questions. I can’t speak to all “evolutionists” or even conservation/environmentalists for that matter. My own perspective is one of practicality - I like seeing a variety of lifeforms in given habits and invasive species radically reduce wildlife diversity. Human introduction of invasive species tends to be in significantly greater quantities than other introduction methods and as such such introductions tend to completely overwhelm given ecosystems.

If it’s because human activity and not “natural forces” brought the “icky” plant over from Asia does that mean that human activities aren’t “natural?” How can that be if humans are just one branch of a “naturally” occurring “tree-of-life?”

Well, for me it has little to do with the transport mechanism. However, because humans are significantly more efficient at introducing species around the world, we do tend to be a vector for overwhelming given habitats. For me that’s more fascinating than problematic. Of course, humans are just as natural a transport mechanism as wind or debris, so I don’t have a problem with it from that perspective.

Additionally, at what point in time was the environment deemed to be “native” and any subsequent species which enter that environment deemed to be “invasive?” If you don’t propose that all living things were originally present in the environment they now occupy wasn’t everything at one time invasive?

Indeed, everything at one point was technically invasive. Even on local scales, invasion occurs. The Barred Owl moving into and displacing (or hybridizing with) the Spotted Owl is a case in point. However, a “native” habitat is one that has had enough time to reach a state of relative equilibrium and thus create a highly diversified and sustainable ecosystem. Invasives, by their nature, break that equilibrium and through given habits into states of degradation and re-adaption.

Why should one be supportive of human activity removing this species from an environment? That seem to be picking winners in a very unnatural way. If you expect that we all agree on your designation of what is a desirable species you must refer to some higher non-material authority of what is good-or-bad, or beautiful-or-ugly.

Not me. I recognize there are conservationists out there who use words like “good” and “bad” and “beautiful” and “ugly” to describe given species - either for aesthetic reasons or for ecological ones - but I don’t use such terms. I freely admit that my perspective is subjective as well, but it’s not arbitrary. There are no ugly species from my perspective or bad ones either. There’s just diversity vs desert.

Oh…in answer to your other question, I’m not of the opinion that anyone should support invasive species removal for any other reason than “I want to.” That is to say, when I give walks and presentations on the subject, I’m quite straight forward about the fact that I do this because I want to, not because I feel it needs to be done or that it’s some great cause or anything like that. I present it pretty much as I’ve presented it here - if you like diverse species of birds, insects, and mammals, here’s one way to help them stay diverse. Also, there are other practical reasons for invasive species removal that some folks I’ve talked to have embraced. For example, the Asian Tiger Mosquito is the only mosquito in the US that comes out during the day and has become the bane of picnicers and outdoor cocktail partiers. The thing is, the reason it’s become so prolific (particularly on the US East Coast) is because of the vast swaths of English Ivy that all sorts of home owners have as garden ground cover. English Ivy (along with a few other non-native, invasive ground covers) retain an inordinate amount of moisture on the leaves that the Tiger Mosquito can use for its larva. Don’t want Tiger Mosquitos biting you during the day? Get rid of the English Ivy in your neighborhoods. Oh…and the Tiger Mosquito is also the one that carries West Nile Virus, just FYI.

From an evolutionists standpoint “invasiveness” must be an entirely subjective label. Better not hope for any support from your evolutionist friends here … at least if their intellectually honest.

As noted, “invasive” is not subjective from an ecological standpoint. The reasons for dealing with invasive species might be, but then that’s true of nearly all human choices.

The red leaves reminded me of a red-leafed shrub I saw this morning in the dry hills of San Jose, CA - (native) Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum). In the fall its leaves turn bright red - nice illustration at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxico[…]diversilobum. Years ago I made a couple of Christmas wreaths with the bright red leaves - they were a big hit, particularly when folks realized what they were. (I used doubled nitrile rubber gloves, and hung the wreaths out of reach.)

I keep confusing burning bush with heavenly bamboo Nandina domestica. Burning bush has much prettier foliage, but I’m always tempted to try heavenly’s berries. (which would be a dangerous thing to do)

apokryltaros said:

I keep confusing burning bush with heavenly bamboo Nandina domestica. Burning bush has much prettier foliage, but I’m always tempted to try heavenly’s berries. (which would be a dangerous thing to do)

apokryltaros said:

I keep confusing burning bush with heavenly bamboo Nandina domestica. Burning bush has much prettier foliage, but I’m always tempted to try heavenly’s berries. (which would be a dangerous thing to do)

Nandina Toxicity

“All parts of the plant are poisonous, containing hydrocyanic acid, and could potentially be fatal if ingested.”

Might just want to avoid that…

I don’t think the berries of Nandina domestica are particularly toxic. However, I wouldn’t eat them. Deer tend to not eat the plants, so they probably do have some toxic components. Birds will eat the berries in late winter, out of desperation, I think.

Nandina foliage gets a bit more bronzy than burning bush so it’s not as showy. However, the long lasting berries of the species are great in winter, the white panicles of flowers in summer are nice too. Nandinas also tend to be a bit leggy, so look best at the back of the border with something covering their knobby knees.

One cool thing I like about nandinas are the leaves. I often use the plant to show the difference between leaflets and leaves and how to tell the difference. The plants tend to have some of the largest compound leaves of landscape plants around here. These plants are often poorly pruned (as many plants are) and I make sure people understand that cutting the leaves in half will do nothing nice for the plant.

I had no idea this euonymus was invasive. I don’t think it’s a problem in the southeast US. But deer love it and there so it’s often off my list of garden plants. For great color in the SE, as Robin said, the Iteas are wonderful.

Poison ivy and oak are both gorgeous fall plants. In the past I’ve left a bit of the former in my garden for the color. As one who suffered a lot from the rash as a child, I’ve developed a healthy respect for that plant (and learned to recognize it better!)

Robin, I think the level toxicity is questionable.* My copy of Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants says the toxicity claims are due to one report of a puppy suffering seizures after chewing on the foliage. (Kinda like the few reports of poisettia toxicity.)

This page from NCSU’s extension service, doesn’t make it much more clear: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/[…]/Nandido.htm

*I still wouldn’t eat it.

lynnwilhelm said:

Robin, I think the level toxicity is questionable.* My copy of Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants says the toxicity claims are due to one report of a puppy suffering seizures after chewing on the foliage. (Kinda like the few reports of poisettia toxicity.)

This page from NCSU’s extension service, doesn’t make it much more clear: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/[…]/Nandido.htm

*I still wouldn’t eat it.

Hmmm…good to know, but then as you say, I still wouldn’t eat them.

Given the number of great berry plants out there though, I really don’t think we’re missing much. :)

Robin said:

Ick ick…bleh bleh!

Sorry…that’s my knee jerk reaction to all plants that are consider non-native invasives in the US. Beautiful bushes (and nice pic) however.

The Pacific Northwest has its Scotch Broom, thanks to hoity toity Victorians who wanted it in their gardens over 100 years ago. Very pretty, but spreads like the Andromeda Strain, and is a real problem for reforestation efforts.

Robin said:

lynnwilhelm said:

Robin, I think the level toxicity is questionable.* My copy of Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants says the toxicity claims are due to one report of a puppy suffering seizures after chewing on the foliage. (Kinda like the few reports of poisettia toxicity.)

This page from NCSU’s extension service, doesn’t make it much more clear: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/[…]/Nandido.htm

*I still wouldn’t eat it.

Hmmm…good to know, but then as you say, I still wouldn’t eat them.

Given the number of great berry plants out there though, I really don’t think we’re missing much. :)

Perhaps it would be best to leave Heavenly bamboo berries to the birds: I think I’ll go take my chances with toyon, instead.

There are two eyes behind a leafy mask staring out of the exact middle of the picture.

Who says we can’t recognize design when we see it?

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on October 17, 2011 12:00 PM.

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