Abatement . . . and Arundo   2 comments

We looked out this morning to see a dozen people out on the island, walking along and carrying something shiny.  I was curious, so I went outside to check it out.

Billy and I thought it might be Mosquito Abatement workers, and we were right.  They were seeking out pockets of skeeters to . . . abate them.  I asked one if I could take his picture, but it turned out I had my camera on the close-up setting, so it didn’t turn out well.

blurrywader

I didn’t figure out the problem until he was headed back to work.

wader

Soon he was following his fellow workers downriver.

wader2

It actually looked like a pretty good way to spend a hot day.

In the background of these shots, you can see some of that pale growth that’s been taking over the island since the fire.  We thought it might be bamboo, but Sasha tells us it’s arundo, or giant reed; and it’s pretty scary stuff.  Here’s a closer look.

arundo

This is an Asian plant, imported like so many other invasive pests as an ornamental.  That’s why some of it is yellow; but you can see a bit of it at the front reverting to its natural green — and even larger size.

According to Wikipedia, this stuff can grow up to four inches a day!  It absorbs toxins such as arsenic, cadmium, and lead, so it can be highly toxic.  Not surprisingly, nothing eats it.  And it spreads like wildfire.  It competes with native willows, and wins every time.  To top it off, it positively loves both fire (as you can see) and flood.

It does have its uses.  In Pakistan, where they have terrible problems with arsenic-laden wells, they are growing it to absorb the poisons from the soil.  It’s very good at cleansing contaminated soils.  It’s been proposed as a source of energy biomass, that is, to be used as fuel.  And of course there’s its original use as roofing material in tropical climates.

Just the same, it’s not something we went in the riverbed.  But it’s there anyway, and apparently it’s been there for quite a while disguised as bamboo.  The fire just made it easy to see.

Maybe it’ll stay on the island — but I doubt it.  Just what we need; Frankenweed.

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Posted June 26, 2013 by stablewoman in Kern River, Nature

2 responses to “Abatement . . . and Arundo

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  1. You need to tell Andy, this stuff is on the invasive species list and needs to be removed… good luck!

    • Andy knows already; it was Sasha who told me what it is. It’s city property, though. Billy suggested that we talk to the city, but I bet their budget doesn’t run to weed removal.

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