Immigration in Action, or the Peanut Paulownia Panorama
My favorite tree, the Paulownia Tomentosa is in bloom now, and today I had an opportunity to visit a large stand of Paulownias that grow about a mile east of the Coppahunk Swamp, on route 460 in Sussex County. The Paulonia tree is not a native species. It came to this country by accident because the seeds, which are very fluffy, were used for packing material in shipments from China years ago. The seeds leaked out of boxes of Chinese imports and today, Paulonia trees grow throughout the eastern US, especially along rail routes.
I liked the juxtaposition of the peanut billboard with these Paulonia trees. The peanut, so closely linked with the identity of Virginia, is another non-native species. Peanuts apparently originated somewhere in South America, were taken to Africa, then were brought to North America from Africa by Europeans.
400 years later, the little patch of North America pictured here is dominated by immigrant plants growing along the roadside and advertised on the billboard. We should just accept the fact that this is a small planet where we all need to coexist. Borders are an antiquated concept. (See The Indigenous Fish Manifesto item #2. )