Blue Gum Eucalyptus forests in the East Bay, Northern California threatened with logging
1969 Mountain Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94611
To the Editor:
Your recent article by Martin Snapp, entitled, "Loggers chop non-native trees in Claremont preserve" (The Montclarion, October 21) was interesting but contained some xenophobic and eucalyptophobic propaganda. The so-called California native plant movement, which detests the Blue Gum tree, is in reality a religious and political movement that fantasizes about some precolumbian pristine world unsullied by the coming of the dreaded white man and his accompanying entourage of Old World cultivated and uncultivated plants and animals. Imagine, millions of years ago, the barren volcanic wastelands of the newly created and arisen Hawai'ian Islands. Also imagine members of the native plant society standing on the barren shoreline and saying "No" to any and every new plant seed that floated on the tide. Biologically, there is no different between plant seeds that migrate in the wind, or carried by birds and other animals, or carried by human effort. Nature is always dynamic and is never static, even in those precolumbian days. This nativist movement is not based on good biological science, but rather is based on fear, fantasy and prejudice. It is interesting to note that the first national native plant movement was started in the early 1930s in Nazi Germany and that it accompanied all of their other racial and religious nonsense: Purifying the Motherland...
All of the Eucalyptus trees that are now living here and growing in California were germinated from seed. If these trees were human, they would be called "native born" and immediately awarded U. S. citizenship. However, in the botanical world, there currently is a strong nativist lobby that will never allow any introduced flowers, shrubs, vines or trees gain their citizenship and thus allowed to be called "native," although biologically, other plants and animals treat them with no distinction or difference.
My review of the scientific literature along with personal observation of the Blue Gum tree, Eucalyptus globulus, has revealed that there are many different species of birds (55), insects (20), amphibians (4), reptiles (10) and mammals (3) that associate with it. For example, the Monarch Butterfly, Panaus plexippus, has adopted groves of Blue Gums as its preferred over-wintering habitat in California, for both food and shelter, because the Blue Gum is one of the few trees that blooms heavily in the California winter. Orioles, Hummingbirds and even some Parrots also seek out Blue Gum flowers for their sweet nectar. Woodpeckers, Flycatchers, Wrens and Warblers also use these trees as insect food sources and also for nesting. Many larger birds, including Turkey Vultures, Hawks, Herons and Owls, use the Blue Gums for roosting and nesting purposes.
James K. Sayre
24 October 2003