A lesson on ‘native’ plants

A volunteer at our California Native Plant Society annual native plant sale at the end of October gave me the Oct. 25 issue of The Argonaut and asked the question: “Are the trees mentioned in the article ‘Native trees, plants will be part of Admiralty Way improvement project’ really California native trees and plants?”
I finally had a chance to read this front page article.
First, a word of caution about asking anyone selling plants or the idea of planting if the plants to be used are “native.” The people selling plants or the idea of planting different plants often say “yes,” using the rationale that every plant is “native” somewhere on Earth. The question must be qualified to “California native plants” or “Southern California native plants” if one expects a more truthful answer.
A second word of caution: don’t spread rumors without checking facts.
The truth about the trees mentioned in the article:
Bronze Loquat (Eriobotrya deflexa) is native to East Asia.
Marina Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) is native to Europe and North Africa.
The truth about the other plants mentioned in the article as plants to be used in medians:
Coral aloe (Aloe striata) is native to south and east Africa.
Gypsum century plant (Agave gypsophila) is native to Mexico.
Purple hearts (Setcreasea pallida) is native to northeastern Mexico.
Wild rye “Canyon Prince” is a cultivar of a California native grass. That’s one California native species, not a tree, out of the six mentioned in the article.
The Argonaut article states that the county is seeking a mitigated negative declaration for this project of replacing trees and plants. If the use of “native plants” was part of the mitigation, which is part of a legal process, apparently decided at an Oct. 30 county supervisors meeting, any readers interested in this issue were misled by The Argonaut article.
I hope The Argonaut was able to publish corrected information for its readers.
Betsey Landis
West Los Angeles

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