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Invasive species

A group calling itself the Union of Concerned Scientists – I’m picturing a bunch of white lab coats and deeply furrowed brows here – has released a report of over 100 nonnative plant and animal species which are threatening native flora and fauna.

Included in the 122 harmful invasive species listed by the Union of Concerned Scientists are such exotic critters as the channeled applesnail — a Filipino gastropod found in a canal in Alvin in 2000 with a voracious appetite for rice — and bastardcabbage, a noxious weed.

Obligatory Dave Barry reference: “Bastard Cabbage” would make an excellent name for a rock band.

“In Texas, if you saw an exotic shellfish in a local stream, there is nobody in particular you should report that to,” said Robert Howells, a fisheries research biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which restricts the importation and possession of 600 species of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants.

“That’s all we are legally allowed to regulate,” he said.

Over the years, he has kept lists. “I do the best I can,” he said, “but it is really an unofficial thing.”

Obviously, not everyone takes this problem as seriously as the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Texas Department of Agriculture regulates and oversees species that could harm the state’s farms and nurseries.

Beverly Boyd, a spokeswoman, took issue with some of the “problem” species on the group’s list. She said a few have become so common, they seem almost native.

“There are a lot of lawns with bermudagrass ,” Boyd said. “We all grew up with Chinaberries.”

Well, yeah, but that doesn’t make it a good thing.

Anway, if you want to learn more about native vs. nonnative plants and why the former is better, I recommend the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which is also a fine place to visit if you’re in Austin.

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  1. […] really have a point to make, I just like saying “bastard cabbage”, which as I noted a few years ago would make an excellent band name. Reading that story pointed me to the Texas Invasives webpage, […]