Stopping the invasive Amur honeysuckle

Nov 01, 2012
Stopping an invader

(Phys.org)—As leaves drop in autumn, it's not only a good time to enjoy the reds, yellows and oranges drifting from the trees—it's also a good time to kill honeysuckle.

Amur honeysuckle, a highly aggressive invasive woody shrub, is rapidly taking over millions of acres in the eastern and midwestern United States in a sort of ecological equivalent of Sherman's March.

"If you're driving along a woods in the fall, you'll see all these shrubs that are still green after all of the trees have lost their leaves," said Ryan McEwan, assistant biology professor. "That's honeysuckle, and it's very much in evidence. It can hold its leaves into December."

The honeysuckle can grow to 20 feet tall and pushes out virtually all , creating an uninterrupted monoculture where once a diversity of plants supported , he said.

McEwan researches the basic biology of honeysuckle; just this year, three journals—American Midland Naturalist, and —have published research on the shrub he either wrote or co-wrote. His focus is to find out which traits enable it to move in so quickly and so completely, despite being a "minor player" in its own along the Amur River in China

One of those traits is that extended leaf time, creating a thick canopy of leaves that shades out light from and can last from early spring into early winter. But that very trait also makes an opening for homeowners and landowners to attack it.

USDA distribution map for Amur honeysuckle.

The best time is late October and early November, when all the other plants are bare and the honeysuckle is still hanging on to its leaves. By spraying it with an such as glycosophate (the active ingredient in Round-Up©), McEwan said the leaves take up the herbicide and transport it into the plant, while minimizing the impact on native plants. So, when the plant finally drops its leaves, they don't come back in the spring. 

That method works, along with staying ahead of small invasions by pulling young plants, he said. And it's worth the effort.  

"The level of energy and investment it takes to eradicate it and then to restore the native species is enormous," he said.

To learn more about Amur honeysuckle, McEwan recommends visiting the Ohio Invasive Plants Council and the USDA Amur honeysuckle sites. 

Explore further: Climate change costing soybean farmers

More information: plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=LOMA6

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Climate change costing soybean farmers

6 hours ago

Even during a good year, soybean farmers nationwide are, in essence, taking a loss. That's because changes in weather patterns have been eating into their profits and taking quite a bite: $11 billion over ...

Equatorial fish babies in hot water

14 hours ago

Scientists have discovered that rising ocean temperatures slow the development of baby fish around the equator, raising concerns about the impact of global warming on fish and fisheries in the tropics.

Beneficial insect virus gets boost as crop pest fighter

14 hours ago

Common baking ingredients may offer a way to bolster the effectiveness of Cydia pomonella granulovirus (CpGV), a natural insect pathogen that's been commercially formulated to kill codling moth larvae, a ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.