Last week I posted here on the impacts of invasive species on our cultural landscapes, and in particular of how Japanese barberry managed to find its way into acclaimed artist and historian Don Troiani's depiction of a pivotal moment at the Battle of Gettysburg - 12 years before its actual introduction into the US! To say that I have been astonished and humbled by the amount of traffic this post has generated at Walking the Berkshires would be a severe understatement.
For those of you who wanted a clearer, larger image of the offending plants, I offer a detail of the lower right corner of Troiani's "Retreat by Recoil" where barberry's distinctive shrubby form and ovate leaves are readily recognizable. You might also notice the Common mullein depicted just below and to the left of the horse with the "white sock" in the upper left of this detail image. Mullein, while considered by some to be invasive, was naturalized in this country long before Gettysburg and is therefore no anachronism.
Troiani's depiction of the flora at the Trostle farm is faithful to what was growing there at the time he visited and researched his painting and one of the reasons I find his military art so compelling. It is like those natural history exhibits at museums where the large, taxidermy specimens may have center stage but there is always a chipmunk somewhere in the scene or a chickadee perched on a twig to add context and depth.