Thanking Lucy at Loose and Leafy for hosting the fun Tree Following meme, we’re checking in today on our chosen trees. My Retama, Parkinsonia aculeata, leafed-out fully this past month, providing a respite for this Red-winged Blackbird during his visit to my garden.
No longer just a display of green bones that are trunk and limbs,
…the tiny, flat leaflets formed along the paired stalks and sport a spring green that is most welcome in my garden.
The fine foliage is lacy against the sky.
The tree fills in a space between the backdrop of neighbors’ trees and my own Shumard Oak, Quercus shumardii. Those blasted electric lines traverse the foliage.
I guess I shouldn’t complain about the lines though, should I? After all, I couldn’t very well write about Retama and hit “send” without them.
The Retama is lovely in any light–I’m so glad I have one in my garden and that I chose it to follow this year.
In the past week, look what’s happened!
Just a few for now and they are clustered together in the topmost foliage, but soon the flowers will appear all over the tree and pollinators of all stripes and wings will visit. It’s been windy here recently, so good photos are tricky.
As this week is National Wildflower Week in the U.S. I think it’s appropriate to laud the Retama’s beauty and appropriateness in its native range. Retama is a native small tree/shrub to Texas and a bunch of other places throughout North and South America. It is an arid climate plant, thriving in dry, hot conditions and a valuable plant in many ways–medicinally, and scientifically, as well as being important for erosion control and soil reclamation.
But the Retama, P. aculeata, has also proven invasive and a problem plant for many areas where it has been introduced. Australia has banned it entirely because it’s become such a noxious weed. Retama escapes from controlled cultivation, probably by birds which spread the seeds, and becomes weedy in natural ranges.
I think this is a good reminder that where a plant is native, there are controls and conditions to keep the plant “in check.” The Retama in my garden belongs here, in my garden. It is a native plant to the region in which I live and garden, and a fine addition for its beauty, its water-wise characteristics, and its ability to thrive in the hot summers. Additionally, it’s also a great wildlife plant. But in places where it is introduced and has invaded, problems arise. Retama spreads and grows rapidly, forming thickets and native plants cannot complete, thus the Retama is responsible for declining flora diversity. It causes problems with livestock (because of its thorns) and spreads profusely when there is plenty of soil moisture.
Because we love of plants, gardeners should be cognizant of how our plant choices impact our home region. When we can do, we should choose native plants and wildflowers to help beautify our world and assist wildlife, but we should also encourage and lobby nursery businesses to supply native plants so that we have choices. When we totally fall in love with a non-native plant and must have it–and that’s happened to all of us–we should learn about the plant and take care that it isn’t invasive and won’t harm our local environment.
Thanking Lucy again for Tree Following–pop over and learn about trees from all over the world. Enjoy!