Contentious perspectives on weeds: nettle, dock, dandelion and wild fennel – environmental weeds or environmental belonging?

Diego Bonetto, 27 Edgeware Road, Enmore, New South Wales 2042, Australia.


In an essay on the practice of exotic mushroom foraging by the Polish community, Max Kwiatkowski argues for a deeper understanding of what he terms ‘ethnoscape’, the ethnic-specific interaction with landscape, its values and cultural returns. The act of foraging has been exercised by indigenous and non-indigenous people alike, the latter usually focusing on non-indigenous flora.

With this paper I will present the need to acknowledge the social imperative of environmental belonging, a necessary aspect to consider when fostering care and kinship in these times of disconnection and alienation. I argue that the process of simplistic labelling of spontaneous exotic species – as good or bad – needs to address the reality of the Australian social and ecological make-up.

Tim Low in his book Feral Future presents the Australian landscape, as defined in the media and politics, as a cultural construct, a subjective interpretation, and used in a too-generic sense to outline a unified national identity. As I speak, people from various cultures gather for road trips to the edges of cities to pursue a practice of environmental belonging: foraging for weeds.


Plant Protection Quarterly (2011) 26 (3) 100-102.