I am relatively new to California, and I never heard of a "fennel frenzy" until my friend Alice, the militant pacifist, told me about one she attended.

She thought she was joining a group of environmentalists to celebrate the beauties of fennel."Imagine my surprise when they handed me a machete and said I should cut all the fennel plants on the side of the road," said Alice.

She had fallen in among a band of native plant advocates, much to her distress. Alice could not understand why these Californians were clear-cutting English ivy, French broom, European mustard, a diversity of plants they call "alien invaders."

"I could understand it if Pete Wilson was there, delivering one of his speeches against an immigrant population," said Alice.

According to her, the governor might well declare: "I will not let our horticultural resources be used up by non-taxpaying clumps of blackberry, radish and eucalyptus. Let these aliens go back wherever they first grew. I salute the proud Californians who hack away at fennel to make more room for our natives like coyote brush, pearly everlasting and poison oak."

Joel Schechter

San Francisco Examiner