Here’s what’s wrong with your perfectly drought-tolerant Southern California landscaping

The title of this blog post is the same, deliberately provocative, title as a Dec 24th opinion article in the LA Times by Charles Miller.  It’s worth your attention.

An excerpt from the article:

…One justification for exotic species promoted within the landscaping industry springs from a fundamental misunderstanding of biodiversity. Many growers and landscapers have been incorrectly taught that the number of species planted is what’s essential.

In fact, while having a diverse palette of plants does help prevent the spread of disease, boosting diversity with nonnative species is counterproductive. Because exotic plants don’t support local soil chemistry and microbes, native insects, birds and mammals, or any of the other life that co-evolved with our native plants over millions of years, every nonnative plant added to a landscape effectively reduces its biodiversity value….

The article notes that the LA City Community Forest Advisory Committee (which notably does NOT yet have an urban forest representative for each council district) has “recently produced a list of 87 native species appropriate for use as street trees in the city.”  Why aren’t we paying more attention to work such as this?

Here’s a link to the Cal Native Trees for LA–10 5 2023.  Charles notes, ” It’s important to note that a good number of the species on the list are in the “needs development” category, in that they are good candidates for street trees but have little track record of this use and may be hard to obtain in the nursery trade. But over half the list are proven performers that with a little work are generally available.”

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