The Wisteria is a flowering, woody vine that climbs by twining its stem around any available support. In doing this, they often rob their host trees of sunlight and choke out other plants. If they are allowed to grow on houses, they can cause damage to gutters, downspouts, and similar structures.
I have one growing in my garden and it was during one of the lockdowns that I fell in love with it. They blossom during springtime, burgeoning beautiful blue flowers that sprinkle down, making plain why in Dutch the plant is called “blue rain”. The tree and the neighbors’ balcony are fully immersed by the excessive growth of this invasive climber.
After learning that the greenery in my garden was not brought about by the tree itself, who already died or is at least in the process of doing so, suddenly I saw Wisteria popping up everywhere in my hometown. It was like being in love with someone and seeing that person’s face on every corner of the street. But this time, they are actually there!
But it’s getting a bit too much at times. I am afraid it is getting out of hand.
Some theorists argue that cereal species and animals such as chickens did a good job domesticating humans, as now they are genetically the most successful grass race and bird type respectively. Well, the Wisteria is on its way to make the list, I concluded, as I walked down the Oude Kijk In ‘t Jatstraat and the Oosterstraat, where the municipality of Groningen made space in the sidewalk to allow the vine to climb. Considering the current short-sightedness of the political milieu, it won’t be long before these plants will be granted monumental status or be dubbed a protected species.
And then what? Us modern humans have never been very good at paying heed to the unwanted consequences of interventions like these. The parasite will proliferate, accelerating in growth, pushing itself through the pavement, through roofs, penetrating the comfort of our human confines, choking us out like it did the tree in my backyard.
For me, I am still in love with this toxic lover watering me down until the world looks as if I was never there. Choking me out, like it did the tree in my backyard. And sure, it looks pretty (especially in spring!) of course it’s beneficial for biodiversity, heat- and stormwater adaptation and good for our health too. Some might argue that it’s about time a non-human species dominates the inner city and the earth. But I wonder, are we prepared to give up this amount of control?