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I don't believe the Azalea or other collections are in danger over not being native. Think that is Joel Lerner's and others in the native-fan world's wishful thinking. The USDA/USNA are pursuing many plant breeding/introduction programs and natives are not their focus. In fact, expansion of Asian species exploration and research (cross-breeding with our natives) is the current direction they are headed.

Disapproval of alien plants can definitely fall within bureaucratic infighting, especially when the removal of such plants is ridiculously cumbersome and would benefit certain parties and contractors (those who might remove and replace such horrible aliens).

I can't see how there would be much to gain from removing so many established plants unless they intend to turn the whole area into a farm.

If the azaleas are being cut for lack of funds, Joel Lerner's idea that it would allow for the installation of more native plants doesn't really make sense. Who is going to pay of it?

We have a recent post on this subject too:

All plants are native to earth.

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