Hurricane Winds & Floods Bring New Plant Life
If you live in an area affected by one of the recent hurricanes you have likely noticed some new arrivals in your lawn and garden. Strong weather events such as hurricanes and tropical storms serve as vectors for plants to propagate naturally both through the dispersal of seeds as well as uprooted or damaged plants taking root in new places.
Hurricanes are capable of displacing plant matter in two ways: wind and storm surge. Strong winds can carry plant seeds over great distances, sometimes even hundreds of miles. Some plants have evolved specialized seeds to take advantage of this method of dispersal, such as dandelions and milkweed. Particularly, the extreme cyclonic winds stir up various seeds in the affected area, causing new plants to grow in unexpected places. Oftentimes wild plants can pop up in areas where they were previously unknown in the wake of these strong tropical storm winds.Seeds produced by these basil flowers (left) were scattered over the connecting yards, producing volunteer plant growth (right). Additionally, elevated water levels due to storm surge and distribute seeds similarly to wind as well as actual plant cuttings. Rising water levels and strong currents can rend plants apart and spread the cuttings to remote areas until water levels recede. Here the plants will find well-moistened soil prime for taking root. This method of propagation is also a natural adaptation that can be observed in plants residing in floodplains such as the Mississippi river delta and the Amazonian rainforest.
This palm seedling emerged in this yard with no apparent source in sight.” “Many common garden flower varieties could be seen growing in scattered clusters in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.” Although rebuilding after a destructive storm can be a grueling endeavour, it is heartening to see the ways in which nature adapts and makes the best of the situation. This provides a gardener with a great opportunity to experience first-hand the natural processes plants utilize to survive without human intervention, as well as a reminder that even natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires serve an important role in the cycle of life.
-Guest Blogger Reagan (Allyson’s Brother)