Over the years, the study of natural ecosystems has been a key aspect and has contributed much in the scientific interest. Due to noxious anthropogenic factors, the natural environment has been faced by many negative changes. There are some benefits that have been associated with spontaneous vegetation that include both aesthetic and ecological values and as such there it is important to use/conserve this type of plant in a sustainable landscape. This paper is mainly going to focus on the spontaneous flora in both urban and ruderal landscapes. Many studies have been conducted while others are still underway in regard to spontaneous vegetation. From an urban point of view, cosmopolitan array of wild plants are believed to provide an important ecological services. They have a great impact on climate change that is seen to contribute heavily on the future. Studies show that proper management of the spontaneous vegetation will promote the social and ecological wellbeing of the surrounding environment. They have also been associated and credit for restoring the ancient ecological systems that have long been lost in the urban areas. For several decades, European ecologists have been carrying out ancient and spatial distribution of the spontaneous vegetation in the cities. This paper is going to focus on several photos taken of wild urban flora that have been taken from three different places. It will also discuss on whether there is an importance of restoring and maintaining the ruderal ecosystems.
A wild urban flora taken near Mooney Bay Park in Ottawa
A wild urban flora taken near Rideau River at Carleton University
A wild urban flora taken in the Campus of Carleton University
Leaves have been believed to form the best basis of how plants species can be identified. For easy identification of the flora plant, several identification key features can be used. However, it is important first to determine to what species a particular plant belongs to before moving further to narrow down the identification process. It is also important to determine the genus and family of the species before any further identification can be implemented. Botanists are known to look at the leaves of the plant in order to classify a given a plant on the basis of what species such plants belongs. In this case, the leaf types have been used to identify the species to what the identified plants belongs. Such varying characteristics include; the leaf type as to whether the leaf is simple or compound, the arrangement of the leaf as to whether the arrangement if opposite or alternate. This is because leaves are easily identified and as such everyone besides the ecological scientists can easily classify the plants. In that case, the observation of leaves will be used in classifying the different species in that can be identified from the different photos. From the first photo, three species are identified are identified. From the second photo, at least five species can also be identified. From the third photo and on the basis of leaf formation, at least four species can be identified.
According to ecologists, disturbance in regard to the environment is the process that interferes with the relationships of the ecological systems. This is just like the disturbance that occurs within a society whereby the relationship of different individuals in disrupted by instances of wars, displacements, civil wars, drought and famine among others. The impacts caused by disturbances can either be instantaneous or generational. In other words, the effects caused by any change in the ecological system can be either short term or long term.
Ruderal refers to the type of plants that grow in waste grounds or in areas where rubbish is discarded. On the other hand, ecosystem refers to the plants, small organisms that feed, interact, and reproduce in the same area/environment. Some ecosystems are usually very large whereas others are considered to be very small. In that case, a redural ecosystem can be defined as the plants that grow in the rubbish and waste grounds and how they interact with each other in order to reproduce. However, due to the increasing number in the human population and especially in the urban Centre, there have been increased interferences with the natural ecosystems of the redural plants.
Spontaneous vegetation has aesthetical and ecological values but at times they can also be problematic. It is problematic in the sense that they may grow and be left unkempt thus interfering with the normal functioning of the environment within a particular area. It is true that something may look good and attractive to an individual and at the same time look totally distasteful to another person. Spontaneous vegetation growing in a particular place may be considered a weed while the same plant growing in another place can be considered as being a wild flower. It implies that a spontaneous vegetation growing in one area may be considered unworthy while the same plant may be considered as being very worthy in yet another location. However, in either case, the vegetation will be serving an import role in the ecosystem in that particular environment.
From one perspective, it can be argued that it is important to allow and advocate for the restoration of the native spontaneous vegetation or ensure the evolution of new-ruderal ecosystems in the urban areas. First, any spontaneous vegetation that grows in the urban serve very critical ecological functions. This is in spite of whether the spontaneous vegetation is native or non-native. According to ecologists, such ecological functions can be said to be environmental services that highly help in the control and absorption of pollutions in the city, serve as remediation for any pollutions, and they also provide medicinal values to the people. Some rivers pass through the cities and as such any plant in spite of its originality will serve a great role in ensuring that there is maintenance of the riverbanks. They will naturally occur along the riverbanks and will help in controlling soil erosion.
The spontaneous vegetation that grows in the cities is known to have some cultural significance. Some of the Spontaneous vegetation is concerned with some cultural heritage of the people residing in that particular urban area. Some of the plants that grow spontaneously in the urban areas have medicinal value. Others are nutritious and as such have been widely used by urban populations as a source of food. For instance, pulsrane is vegetation that grows spontaneously in many areas and people usually eat it. In addition, the plant does not require any management and has also been used in the thickening of soups because of it foliage nature and because of the fact that the plant is quite mucilaginous. The plant has been spreading on its own and requires little or no management. Another cultural importance that can be obtained from the spontaneous plants is that they can be used in making of ornaments.
Plants are known to compact together soil particles hence serve as agents of reducing soil erosion. Urban areas are associated with construction works thereby bringing disturbances and fragmentation of the soil. There are continued disturbances of the soil implying that some soil features such as drainage will be negatively affected. This will eventually impact on the stability of other crops. In order to prevent such soil erosions then, it is important to embrace the important roles played by the naturally growing plants.
Plants, whether native or non-native, are known to regulate climate conditions, whether in the urban or rural areas. Many emissions of carbon dioxide into the environment is present in the urban areas where there are many industrial processes going on. As such, plants will play a vital role in the sense that they help reduce global warming.
Over the recent years, there have been increased changes associated with the environment because of the changes in urban vegetation. Based on the above discussion, it can be argued that spontaneous vegetation has huge impacts on the human value in the sense that they largely affect the ways in which human associates with others. They also impact on the relationships that different animals and plants have on each other. They largely contribute heavily on the ecosystems and as such should be well preserved. However despite the above-discussed merits, spontaneous vegetation is associated with different shortcomings in regard to the general ecosystems. This is especially as far as ruderal ecosystem is considered (Tredici, 2014).
First, a considerable number of the spontaneous plants that grow in the urban areas may grow relatively taller and especially in cases where they are not well tendered to thereby becoming nuisance to the residents. In fact, the plant becomes a weed in the sense that it grows in a place that is not expected to be growing and may act as a breeding point for vermin. Such plants may grow in the homestead or any other neglected area around the residential areas and may be a carrier of diseases that may eventually be harmful to human beings. Other than being disease carriers, some spontaneous plants may also be carriers of poisonous and toxic foreign species.
Apart from the spontaneous vegetation found in the urban areas some people around the cities engage in crop production. It implies that such crops will be impacted by the spontaneous plants growing in their neighborhood. As earlier stated, some of the spontaneous vegetation are disease carrying agent implying that the diseases may impact negatively on the crops. In fact, according to studies, there is a need to have crop rotation in order to facilitate ecosystem and maintain the quality of soil such as soil fertility. In the absence of such rotation, then the quality of soil will be negatively affected.
In conclusion, it is true that the advantages associated with the spontaneous vegetation outnumber the disadvantages and as such, it is important that the ruderal ecosystem should be allowed. They serve very critical ecological roles in the urban areas in the sense that they help in regulating the levels of pollution, and they help in controlling the soil erosion, help in soil aeration and the soil microbiological functions. However, they act as disease carrying agents hence impacting negatively on human value. The merits associated with the spontaneous vegetation to a far degree outnumber the shortfalls and hence their growth and development in the urban areas should be encouraged. People should look forward in ensuring that redural ecosystem should be encouraged in order to ensure that there is ecological restoration/fixation of the lost value of the soil and especially in and around the urban areas.
Tredici, P. D. (2014).The flora of the future: Celebrating the botanical diversity of cities. Retrieved August 11, 2014, from http://places.designobserver.com/feature/flora-of-the-future-urban-wild-plants/38417/