It looks cute, even romantic. You may remember finding graffiti on an old tree or seeing it in a movie. Where The Red Fern Grows, an old family favorite, centers around a heart carved on a tree with ‘Dan and Ann’ carved inside. Romantic. Iconic. Fun!
But this kind of graffiti, carved into living plants, can be damaging, even fatal in some situations. Carving into and under the bark creates a route for bacteria, insects, or water, all potentially deadly. In many instances, at least a ‘scar’ will form, allowing the tree to continue to live, although defaced.
In the case of palm ‘trees’, though, the situation is more serious. Palms are not really trees at all. They are more susceptible to insects and rot and damaging a palm tree with graffiti is not romantic. It can be fatal.
At CNLM’s Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve in the Coachella Valley, native palms circle oases, creating life-giving habitat for much wildlife. Recently, some of these iconic palms have been defaced with graffiti by visitors. Not only does this harm the plants, it reduces the health and sustainability of this natural habitat and damages the pristine aesthetics of the oases. Here, the intent is to provide visitors with an opportunity to experience the wild and natural condition of the desert environment, including palm oases. When a palm is carved with personal messages or symbols, that natural quality, as well as the health of the palm, is compromised. Moreover, it is illegal – a misdemeanor to deface these plants that occur on private property. We encourage all visitors to enjoy the natural experience provided by this preserve and to help us in nurturing a conservation ethic that distinguishes between ‘art’ and ‘destruction’.