Exotic Bush Honeysuckle
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 11, 2014
My son Derek has been working hard this summer to remove invasive plants around our property. They are found in our CRP prairie, in the woods, and in other unmown natural areas. The most invasive plants on our property are garlic mustard, bush honeysuckle, oriental bittersweet, and burning bush.
Not all bush honeysuckle are invasive, though none are native here. I have a planting of winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) that is not an escape threat in the Midwest. It is known for its small white fragrant flowers that occur in early spring.
Candice Miller, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator in northern Illinois, wrote the following about the exotic bush honeysuckles.
The invasive bush honeysuckles were introduced to the U.S. for use as ornamentals, for wildlife cover, and for soil erosion control. These exotic bush honeysuckles Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle), Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle), and Lonicera tatarica (Tartarian honeysuckle) also have fragrant flowers in early summer. As you drive along highways near wooded areas, you'll notice the pairs of fragrant, white or pink tubular flowers, followed by bright red berries. Birds love these fruits and will widely disseminate seeds across the landscape.
Bush honeysuckles are upright, generally deciduous shrubs that range from 6 to 15 feet in height. According to the US Forest Service, exotic bush honeysuckles are relatively shade-intolerant and most often occur in forest edges, abandoned fields, pastures, roadsides and other open, upland habitats. Woodlands, especially those that have been grazed or otherwise disturbed may also be invaded by exotic bush honeysuckles.
The many problems with exotic bush honeysuckles are the following (US Forest Service fact sheet):
- Exotic bush honeysuckles can rapidly invade and overtake a site, forming a dense shrub layer that crowds and shades out native plant species.
- They alter habitats by decreasing light availability, by depleting soil moisture and nutrients, and possibly by releasing toxic chemicals that prevent other plant species from growing in the vicinity.
- Exotic bush honeysuckles may compete with native bush honeysuckles for pollinators, resulting in reduced seed set for native species.
- In addition, the fruits of exotic bush honeysuckles, while abundant and rich in carbohydrates, do not offer migrating birds the high-fat, nutrient-rich food sources needed for long flights, that are supplied by native plant species.
Have some of these invasive shrubs on your property? Removing these shrubs is very important to restoring our native habitats. Removal can be done by a variety of mechanical and chemical methods. See this fact sheet for a list of management options: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/loni1.htm. More information can be found at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/cs/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_009128.pdf