Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bush Honeysuckle

Here are some rather misshapen fruits of a Bush Honeysuckle. There are several different Asian species of Bush Honeysuckle that are invasive and aggressively becoming established in woodlands in this area. Maybe this fruit is the first sign of a devastating disease attacking exotic honeysuckles. That would be nice, but highly unlikely.

Like the vining Japanese Honeysuckle, the Bush Honeysuckle seeds are distributed by birds and when a plant becomes established, it spreads by sending out rhizomes that spawn a long series of clone plants. Nursery owners love this type of behavior in plants because they can rapidly increase their stock. Invasive plant fighters loathe this reproductive method because of the speed in which a plant can blanket a new territory.

Bush Honeysuckle is an understory plant, meaning that it lives beneath the mature forest canopy. Like other plants of the woodland floor, the honeysuckle develops leaves early in the spring and holds them well into fall, so it can take advantage of the sunlight available when the woodland trees are without their leaves. A trip to the Cincinnati area will show you how this plant can quickly grow to produce a monoculture in the woods. I will not let that happen to the woods at Blue Jay Barrens.

Fortunately, honeysuckle is highly susceptible to glyphosate herbicide and can be killed by spraying any time the leaves are on. The plant has a shallow root system, so seedling shrubs can also easily be controlled by pulling. Just grab the little shrub and give a steady pull.

Depending on conditions, you may have soil clinging to the root mass. Some people believe that the disturbance caused by pulling plants can create ground suitable for colonization by exotic species. This is probably true, but I believe the risk is minimal. The fact that an exotic species is growing there in the first place, makes me believe the site was perfectly suitable before I began messing around. It’s also evident to me that I’m not the only source of disturbance in these woods. From this place in the woods, I can see areas scratched up by foraging turkeys, areas torn up by running deer, strips heaved up by foraging moles, holes left open by digging squirrels and divots knocked away by falling branches. Besides that, the soil is loose and workable, so growing conditions are ideal where ever a seed falls.

If the plant is dropped to the ground with even a little bit of soil protecting the roots, it may just continue to grow. I knock the soil from the roots so it goes back into the hole it came from. The exposed roots will dry out and the plant will die.

Some people are afraid to even let the bare roots touch the ground for fear of the plant reclaiming its position in the forest soil. They’ll hang the pulled plant on a tree branch to deny it any chance of finding soil again. Maybe this is like hanging a crow on the garden fence to keep other crows away. I’ve never had any of these pulled plants continue to grow, so I just drop the bare rooted plant on the ground.

No comments:

Post a Comment