A couple of years ago I wrote an essay about wineberries, an invasive species that is widespread where we live. It poked around at questions of nativism, horticultural aesthetics, ecological emotion, and the ethics of human involvement in the plant world. The essay includes this sentence (which, on its own, is not representative of the whole, but hey):
“When I picture a native plant that I love (let’s say, bloodroot) and imagine it being erased from the biosphere by bullying gangs of wineberry, I can easily tap into the dread that leads to botanical xenophobia.”
At the time I wrote this, I did love bloodroot but didn’t know it that well; I had spotted it only once in the wild, while hiking with an indifferent friend. But this has been my bloodroot year; I have observed it all spring, so that now I could identify it in a number of different forms–shoot, bloom, leaf–and I had it bleed on my hand, a startling and wonderful experience. It’s been haunting my sleep more than I thought a plant species could do. And I took this photo that illustrates exactly what my essay imagined: bloodroot and wineberry, growing in proximity. Wineberry is the three-leaved plant in the very center. The bloodroot, for now, is bigger.