Monday, August 22, 2011


SINCE  I was twelve, I have lived under the impression that war and conflict have dominated the world. The most absurd, perhaps are those fought for principles of this or that..Religion, freedom, democracy, dictatorships, communism and nationalism, take your pick.

Once in a blue moon, I wondered about the effect of war on flora and fauna.  It is not that simple. Not many people write on the subject, on the contrary, I always see some article or news about the millions of personal mines still active in the whole world where brutal, useless and expensive wars have been fought.

Richard Mabey
 Harpers College Publishers

The world and life of weeds if deep and wide. I have yet to find a book, as the one above, covering the whole spectrum.
Readers unwilling to familiarize themselves with botanical names will have a feast. Only the common names are used throughout the text, even though a botanical index and solid references are provided.

Below an excerpt on Vietnam. It provides a glimpse on the subject of weeds and war, considering the constant daily news  clips of bombs dropping in that country and its neighbors are still somewhat fresh on me mind after four decades. 

In the real world, the superweed is already here, not as the result of extra-terrestrial invasion but of our own reckless assaults on the natural world.  Sometimes a plant is turned into a weed and then into a multinational villain because humans have exterminated all the other wild plants with which it once lived in some sort of equilibrium.

Between 1964 and 1971 the United States sprayed 12 million tons of Agent Orange in Vietnam. This infamous mixture of phenoxyacetic herbicides, free dioxins, and turpentine was used as defoliant, to lay bare entire rainforests so that the Vietcong had nowhere to hide. It laid low large numbers of Vietnamese people,too, and is now banned under the Geneva Convention.  But this outlawing was too late for the forest, which has still not recovered four decades on.  In its place is a tough grass called cogon.

Cogon is a natural component of the ground vegetation of south-east Asian forest. If flourishes briefly when the canopy closes again. When the trees were permanently obliterated in Vietnam, it rampaged across the landscape. It is repeatedly burned off, but this seems to encourage it more, and it has overwhelmed all attempts to overplant it with teak, pineapple, even the formidable bamboo.
Unsurprisingly it picked up the local tag of "American weed".  There is some poetic justice in the fact that cogon recently infiltrated the USA in the packaging of imported Asian house-plants, and is now advancing through the southern states.
Back in the studio, I must add that some females among  the concrete asphalt isle population was used as guinea pigs for birth control pills in the beginning, and apparently our flora and fauna in El Yunque was also used to experiment with Agent Orange moons ago.

Perhaps the statehooders should add this fact to their arguments/demands that WE should be EQUALS, voting for a president, become a state and such  when they go begging to the US Congress for such aberration/dream.

This may soften their kind, humanitarian sense of history, sovereignty and respect of the  free will of the people other than themselves, eloquently demonstrated in the whole wild world during their existence.

That is That 


  1. poetic justice indeed.
    it would be interesting to research further into synergistic effects of chemical application. Superflu and antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria come to mind.
    Also...a similar story but with kudzu:

  2. I think it was on this year's World Press Photo award when a photo of a descendant of an agent orange victim was given the top prize. The girl must be about 10, so she's surely the granddaughter of some victim/s. Either that or dioxin is still doing its magic in the environment. Didn't know that on top of that they had to deal with a weed gone out of control, but that should come as no surprise. It's also very interesting to find out that the plant is called "American weed". They call the Vietnam war the American war over there. A different perspective I guess. You won't be dissapointed to know, as I'm sure you do that on top of that, depleted uranium adds a whole new dimension of environmental havok to the mess we already had. I wonder if it has been used in Vieques, given the high cancer rates over there.

  3. Thank you Beato and David for the feedback...

    Jau can anyjuan forget the Bhopal dioxin exlosion....some moons ago...


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