Link: The beauty of invasive species

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is running an article by Carolyn Beans that profiles the work of Ellie Irons: “Science and Culture: Painting with invasive pigments”. Irons is a painter who has chosen to feature the pigment products of invasive plants in her work.

About one quarter of the weeds in Irons’ color palette are native to the northeastern United States. The rest are introduced, often highly invasive plants—some of which the city is actively working to eradicate from forested areas. Such efforts are undertaken for good reason; invasive species spread can devastate an ecosystem.
But Irons believes urban ecosystems are different. After all, many native plants couldn’t survive the harsh conditions. Where native plants fail, hardy weedy plants, she reasons, can step up to provide a wealth of ecosystem services—from stabilizing soil and reducing nutrient and stormwater runoff to cooling the air and providing food and habitat for animals.
Two Meadows, by Ellie Irons. Featured by Ecological Society of America
"Two Meadows Paintings", by Ellie Irons. Featured by the Ecological Society of America on Flickr. An installation of her work was exhibited at the ESA annual meeting in 2017. </figure> There are no "pure" ecosystems in the world, all have changed over time. But the pace of human change has posed unique challenges to some species and opportunities to others. It is for us to learn and recognize the workings of the world around us, to understand how we may best survive in the future.