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October 30th, 2009:

Mt. Tamalpais, Invasive Species, and Herbicides

On the side of Mt. Tamalpais in in the summer.

On the side of Mt. Tamalpais in in the summer.

Mt. Tamalpais sits across the San Francisco bay from me, on a clear day you can even see it from the hills behind the Berkeley campus. Apparently, the region around Tamalpais is also home to species, especially plant species, found no where else. These local species are threatened by other, invasive, species that have been brought to northern California from all over the world. Some accidentally, but many more imported as ornamental species for private gardens.

Invasive species aren’t something I worry a lot about, but we had a great presentation in one of my classes on Tuesday by a woman who’d spent several years fighting the good fight against them across the bay.

Take French Broom, a woody shrub from the Mediterranean. California’s native habitat is quite similar to the Mediterranean climate and the species is thriving, growing so densely that it chokes out tree seedling before they can grow big enough to escape the thicket. The plant is out-competing FORESTS! And it’s also taking a bite out of the ecological niche currently occupied by alpine grasslands like the one pictured.

I like grasslands. (more…)