How Invasive Species Affect Culturally Significant Plants

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde includes people from the Oregon coast to the Cascades, and Portland to the Klamath Basin. The Confederation, which represents 27 tribes and bands speaking at least six different languages, is partnering with Metro to share ecological knowledge and practices in order to keep weeds at bay. Greg Archuleta, a Member of the Confederation, says that while some individuals think it is best to take a hands-off approach and “let nature fix itself”, he says of the confederation, “we’re more hands on”. Archuleta observes forests, prairies, wetlands and more throughout the greater Portland area, taking note of plants that can be used for food, medicine, or art. Aside from his work in the field, Archuleta also recently gave a presentation about native plants and food at the November 2018 OISC Meeting (see recap here).

 
 Camas bulbs, to be prepared for a meal (Photo by Greg Archuleta, 2018).

Camas bulbs, to be prepared for a meal (Photo by Greg Archuleta, 2018).

 Camas growing in Oregon (Photo by Greg Archuleta, 2018).

Camas growing in Oregon (Photo by Greg Archuleta, 2018).

Archuleta’s work often comes into contact with the issue of invasive species. There is a paradox regarding native species that can’t compete with invasives. Research has found that native camas bulbs store some compounds from pesticides, and tribal members don’t feel comfortable eating the bulbs, even if levels of pesticide are considered “safe” by the EPA safety guidelines. However, the purpose of pesticide use is to control invasive weeds like reed canary grass and meadow foxtail that outcompete camas fields. Archuleta strives to resolve the issue by looking at the long-term goal: while he might not be able to gather and eat the bulbs, future generations will.

Read the original article written by Cory Eldridge for Metro News.