Opinion: Non-native plants won’t save L.A. from the beetle that’s killing its trees

The polyphagous shot hole borer beetle on a sycamore tree in Craig Regional Park in Fullerton.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As I read the sobering article on threats to local trees and the region’s rapidly receding canopy, I was struck by two things. (“The trees that make Southern California shady and green are dying. Fast,” April 19)

First, native trees are called out as being especially susceptible to the effects of polyphagous shot hole borer beetle, while at the same time the practice of importing exotic trees and wood products is cited as the very source of this devastating pest.

Native trees are not somehow weaker than other trees; like most of our woody plants, they have not evolved defenses for this beetle.


Second, the article ends with the suggestion that importing more exotic trees will solve this problem. This very denial of place helped bring about this crisis in the first place.

Doubling down on that approach will leave us with an urban tree canopy that does not support local wildlife, is not adapted to our climate, and makes Southern California feel more like Phoenix.

That is not the future we deserve.

Kitty Connolly, Sun Valley

The writer is executive director of the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants.

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