Conservation Connection: Bush honeysuckle

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(KPLR) - There’s an alien invader that might be growing in your backyard.  It could be threatening to take over your whole property!  Fortunately now is the perfect time to fight back and get rid of it!  Natural History Biologist Mike Arduser from the Conservation Department talked with John Fuller about bush Honeysuckle.

Q.  What is bush honeysuckle?

  • Invasive, non-native plant brought here from Asia
  • It’s deceptively attractive with fragrant white blossoms in spring and bright red berries in fall
  • Not to be confused with Missouri’s native vine honeysuckle

Q. Why is it so bad?

  • It has no natural controls here
  • It’s very aggressive and spreads rapidly
  • It forms dense thickets that can consume woods, forests, parks and yards
  • It leafs out in early April and stays green through November, which robs native plants of sunlight and soil nutrients
  • It may secrete toxins into the soil impacting other plants’ ability to grow
  • Birds eat the berries and spread its seeds
  • Unlike native plants, it provides little benefit to wildlife . . . the berries are of little nutritional value and are basically “junk food” for birds and animals

Q.  What can be done about it?

  • Now is the best time to identify it as leaves drop from native plants and bush honeysuckle remains green
  • Also identify it this time of year by its bright red berries
  • Pull and hack it out, then treat with herbicide like Roundup to keep it from growing back
  • Consider replacing with beneficial native shrubs

Q. What are some good native alternatives to plant instead?

  • buttonbush
  • fragrant sumac
  • flowering dogwood
  • deciduous holly
  • elderberry
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