nature, photography, trees

Shaken, not stirred?

Russian Olive 2

30 Day Photo Challenge Day 4 – Something Green

These are olives…Russian olives, to be exact.

The Russian olive is a large, spiny, perennial deciduous shrub or small growing tree.  They are found throughout North America, but were originally from western Asia.  The Russian olive was purposely introduced to this country because it is a thriving landscape species. It is salt-hardy, drought-hardy, fast-growing and makes a great windbreak or privacy screen.  Birds use them for cover and forage on their “olives.”  They were planted all over the United States, often times with the blessing of agency that is now known as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

What’s not to love, then?  The Russian olive, with its tendency to spread quickly, is actually a threat to native species like cottonwood and willows.  Russian olive out compete native vegetation and interfere with natural plant succession.  They can block out sunlight needed by other trees and plants.  They also choke irrigation canals and marshlands.  And they are water hogs.  In fact, they’ve become flora non grata in many parts of our country, with some states like Wyoming classifying them as noxious weeds.

We still have several Russian olive trees in the shelter belt around our property.  They were planted more than 30 years ago when everyone still thought Russian olives were great.  Eventually, we’ll do our part for conservation and replace these spiny, silvery beasts with more environmentally friendly trees and shrubs.

In the meantime, would anyone care for a martini?

Teresa

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