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A Friendly Look at Invading Urban Plants

Benjamin Wellington, Student ASLA, favorably reviews Peter Del Tredici’s field guide to naturally-growing plants in urban areas.
June 26, 2012, 10am PDT | Akemi Leung
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It's easy to assume that any plant that doesn't look like it was purposefully positioned and pruned is a weed. However, Peter Del Tredici aims to readjust that thinking in his book, Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast. He advocates that plants that grow on their own in urban areas are not always ugly and dangerous. Instead, "these species reduce the urban heat island effect, protect against erosion, stabilize stream banks, manage stormwater, create wildlife habitat, produce oxygen, and store carbon."

Del Tredici further argues that sustainable landscape architecture is not just about using native plants; it's about getting plants to survive on their own with minimal human help.

As novel as the 300-page book is, Benjamin Wellington writes that the field guide is not for landscape designers, who need to know how to use the plants and kill them. He also notes that, "Del Tredici deliberately omits any negative ecological qualities that these plants may have."

"Written for a general audience, Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast is not intended as a guide to designing with spontaneous vegetation. Instead, it serves both as an eye-opening guide to plants often overlooked, and as a challenge to our notions of nature and the way we determine the value of plants."

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Published on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 in THE DIRT
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