Mellowing over time!

As I get older I tend to think less about weedy plants being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. At the risk of unleashing a flow of comments suggesting I reconsider, let me qualify my position.

Along Mia Mia Road there are a number of clumps of introduced European Blackberry Rubus fruticosus aggregate. These plants have been growing there for as long as I can remember, thriving in the disturbed soil that is a legacy of gold mining, road making and a variety of semi-agricultural pursuits. Despite their longevity they don’t appear to have spread much beyond their current location – you certainly won’t find the species growing on the surrounding rises and ridgelines where regrowth bush dominates the infertile soils. This is not the case in many better-watered parts of Victoria where Blackberry is an aggressive weed that dominates high-value riparian areas in particular. In the absence of native shrubs around this site the Blackberry is providing habitat for a variety of small birds – Superb fairy-wren, Red-browed Firetail, White-browed Scrub-wren, Yellow-rumped Thornbills and even White-browed Babblers using it sometimes for nesting.

Now I’m certainly not advocating allowing plants such as Blackberry to spread, but given a limited amount of effort to expend it would perhaps be better to establish some local blackberry ‘analogues’ such as Spreading Wattle, Hedge Wattle and Bushy Needlewood nearby, as a precursor to some concerted blackberry control. That way the small birds will have safe refuges for nesting and over time the habitat will be enhanced.

rbf1

Red-browed Firetail carrying nesting material, Mia Mia Road, 24th September 2016

rbf2

II

rbf3

III

scrubwren

White-browed Scrub-wren

goldfinch

European Goldfinch – an introduced exotic that is now well and truly naturalised around Newstead.

5 responses to “Mellowing over time!

  1. I agree with your sentiments Geoff, also based on aged wisdom. And if no-one sprays the Mia Mia road clumps you also have the basis of a few Blackberry pies.

  2. Well said Geoff, the sooner we learn to accept novel ecosystems and put the effort and $$ into functional/ productive landscapes the better. Ethnic cleansing is becoming an an obsession in some quarters.

  3. Totally agree, there has been determined effort to remove large areas of Pinus radiata, particularly from catchment areas. Over the years I have watched flocks of Yellow tailed Black Cocatoos feeding on the pine cones in places like the Botanic Gardens Castlemaine and Malmsbury and Lauriston. Has any thought been given as to where the birds will replace this part of their food gathering. I must add that replanting with natives is excellent and often well executed but there is a considerable time lag before the wildlife can access the benefits, meanwhile they have no shelter from weather and predation and less food.

  4. Couldn’t agree more Geoff. One of our first mistakes at our place was to get rid of a small patch of blackberries 22 years ago. We then realised that we’d got rid of the habitat for Red-browed Finches, which have never returned. Then when we looked at aerial photos from 1949 and 1989 we saw that the patch had not grown in 40 years.

  5. A wise man once said ,” It is far easier to try to learn to love something that wants to grow, than to try to grow something you want to love”

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