Thursday, April 05, 2007

Illegal Aliens

USA Today is reporting that there are aliens causing problems along the USA-Mexico border...and it turns out they're actually talking about alien plants. "Carrizo cane" spreads so fast and grows so tall that it is being blamed for providing cover for drug dealers and people trying to cross into the US illegally. It took a lot of Googling to track down the true identity of "Carizo cane" - the common name is attributed to Arundo donax, but also sometimes to Phragmites australis, and to other grasses as well. Finally, at the Journal of Homeland Security, I found proof: it is Arundo donax, also known by the common name giant reed.

The Department of Homeland Security is paying the US Department of Agriculture $1.5 million to help manage the problem, and from the article it sounds like this involves tracking down a biological control in the plant's native Europe. I find this slightly amusing in light of the fact that it was just a few months ago that Florida businesses were calling for permission to cultivate "e-grass" - the very same Arundo donax. Gee, hope that biocontrol doesn't spread...

Tip of the virtual hat to Ryan Grim over at Slate.

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