Fruit on the Planet of Weeds

Oriental bittersweet, Frick Park, 29 Oct 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

1 November 2022

Just over a week ago I wrote about the sixth mass extinction during which the Earth will become a weedy place with fewer species.

Earth will be a different sort of place — soon, in just five or six human generations. My label for that place, that time, that apparently unavoidable prospect, is the Planet of Weeds.

David Quammen, Planet of Weeds, Harper’s Magazine, October 1988

The plants pictured here are some of those weeds, all of them non-native invasives that happen to provide food for birds and small mammals.

Last week in Frick Park large flocks of American robins gobbled up oriental bittersweet, honeysuckle and porcelain berry fruits. As they continue their migration they’ll deposit the seeds along the way.

(Amur) honeysuckle fruit, NMR Trail, 27 Oct 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)
Porcelain berry fruit, NMR Trail, 27 Oct 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

Animals that aren’t afraid of thorns eat the fruits of Japanese barberry.

Japanese barberry in October (photo by Kate St. John)

After the frost softens the Callery pears robins and starlings strip the fruit from these invasive trees.

Callery pear fruits in November 2012 (photo by Kate St. John)

Even though the fruits are “weeds” they can be beautiful.

(photos by Kate St. John)

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