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Showing posts from October, 2019

Grapes, Plums, and Pigeons

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Coccoloba is a large genus of Neotropical trees and shrubs belonging to the Buckwheat Family. Two species are found as far North as Southern Florida, where they are important and distinctive components of coastal plant communities. Sea Grape, Coccoloba uvifera, is a broad-canopied tree commonly growing in sand or very sandy soil behind the first dune line on beaches or in coastal hammocks inland from mangroves. Sometimes it can be found along the shore just inland of the high tide line. The species is both salt and drought tolerant. Depending on location, Sea Grape can grow as a medium-tall tree with a mound-like shape, or be wind- sculpted and sand-blasted into a sparser, irregular form. It can also be found as a thicket or tall groundcover that helps anchor and stabilize beaches. Its dense branches and thick foliage shelter wildlife; it’s an important nectar source for several butterfly species. Female trees bear tasty fruit, a food source for birds and mammals. The fully ripe fruit…

Planting Trees and the Complexities of Good Intentions

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As humans, we often treat ourselves as though we are somehow separate from the rest of Nature. Yet everything that we do connects to the greater world. The growth and migration of human populations have profoundly influenced landscapes, species composition, and ecosystem functions for thousands of years. It’s only in our contemporary period of rapidly accelerating instability and destruction that efforts at environmental mitigation and restoration are being attempted. Many solutions seem straightforward; if a forest is logged, then replant. If the burning of fossil fuels causes climatological warming, then utilize renewable energy resources. We seek elegant, simple solutions to complex problems. Sometimes, the applied fixes exacerbate the negative conditions that need correction. Around the world, forests are being lost to the expansion of agriculture and cattle-grazing, wood-cutting for fuel and construction, mining, and the growth of cities. Replanted trees are often utilized as a re…