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Are You Prejudiced Against Trees?

The New River Gorge (our backyard) is filled with trees.  So what’s one more?

What follows is the story of our Royal Paulownia Tree, AKA the Princess Tree, and its life at Opossum Creek Retreat…

Princess tree blossoms

It’s weird to think that, if you packed your china in some seed pods to protect them (the original packing peanuts) on the long journey to your new job, that hundreds of years later your packing peanuts’ offspring might attack someone’s building foundation!

Science fiction its not.

Immigrants from the Far East used the seed pods from the Royal Paulownia Tree or Empress Tree  as packing peanuts for a long time. Trains rattling up and down the New River Gorge brought in goods from all over the world to the people who lived in the great river valley (mostly the mine managers and owners).  When the recipients opened their boxes, the seeds fell out on the ground.

Those seeds love disturbed soil like along train tracks or all around new towns like the ones being built during the coal mining days.  Or, you know, next to the foundation of The Meadows Cabin.  We found the damage the tree had caused when we excavated and put in a new drain system in preparation for the timber frame great room addition.

Now, the tree in question was a favorite, and anyone who’s been to Opossum Creek Retreat knows that we go a long way to blend the cabins into the rest of the environment.  I mean, some of the trees are ridiculously close to where we built, but what can I say? I’m a tree hugger.

The Paulonwia is “an invasive plant species”, and to some that means it should be eradicated.  The likelihood of that happening is about as high as getting rid of Starlings (I like them too). While it is not native, it’s been here for a long, long time.  I wonder how long something has to be in a place to be from there?

It is doing very well here, and lots of people (including me) like the tree. It’s beautiful.  I’m sure that way back when, even before us humans, things got moved around and took up residence wherever that volcano or hurricane blew them. Did that make them invasive?  Just sayin’.

If a plant or animal happens to have ended up someplace new, with or without human help, is it really invasive?  Or is it just part of evolution, in the long run?  I’m sure some people will always look at newcomers to an area as invasive.  But I guess that’s a rant for another blog.

I’m not saying invasive species don’t exist.  They do.  But I sure did hate to cut down our Princess Tree.

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