|Invasive Species – Amur Honeysuckle
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Honeysuckle can form a dense understory thicket which can restrict native plant growth and tree seedling establishment.
Native Origin: Native to eastern Asia; introduced into North America in 1896 for use as ornamentals, for wildlife cover and for soil erosion control.
Description: An erect multi-stemmed erect deciduous shrub with arching branches that grows up to 30 feet tall. The leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, 2 to 3 inches long, green above, paler and slightly fuzzy below. Fragrant flowers are tubular with very thin petals and appear in late spring. They are white changing to yellow and 3/4 to 1 inch in length. Abundant red berries, 1/4 inch in diameter, appear in late summer and often persist throughout winter. The stems are hollow with stringy tan bark. It reproduces both vegetatively and by seeds.
Habitat: Amur Honeysuckle can grow in a wide range of soil types. It tolerates wet soils for brief periods of time, such as at the edge of streams and creek banks that occasionally overflow. It can grow in full sun or full shade and can be found in fencerows, thickets, woodlands, roadsides, pastures, old fields, neglected areas and lawns. It is tolerate of all types of pollution, and thrives on neglect, tolerating severe summer droughts and cold winter temperatures with minimal dieback. It readily grows in zones 3 to 8.
Ecological Impacts: In forests the plant can adversely affect populations of native members of the community. It can spread rapidly due to the seeds being dispersed by birds and mammals. It can form a dense understory thicket which can restrict native plant growth and tree seedling establishment.
Toxicity: Berries may be mildly poisonous if eaten.
Control and Management:
Chemical- Use a systemic herbicide. Thoroughly wet all leaves with glyphosate (e.g., Roundup) as a 2- percent solution in water with a surfactant from August to October. Cut large stems and immediately treat stumps with imazapyr as a 10 percent solution or a glyphosate herbicide as a 20-percent solution. Check label directions for details. Contact your state coop extension for local recommendations.
Prescribed burning- Initiate prescribed burning prior to the seed dispersal period (late summer to early autumn) to minimize reinvasion of treated habitats.
Amur Honeysuckle is a big problem at DuPage County, Illinois Forest Preserves.
Trends and rising threats from invasive species
Other plant species, such as European Cheatgrass, have almost entirely displaced sagebrush-grassland plants and associated animals. Cheatgrass has also seriously altered the fire regime from an average return interval of 60-110 years to 0-3 years. Cheatgrass is an example of the adverse impacts an introduced species can have on the environment. Some scientists estimate that Cheatgrass is present on 100 million acres of grassland-steppe in the western United States. Cheatgrass forms a dense, uniform carpet that out-competes native grasses and shrubs. It greens quickly, dries quickly and produces a very flammable cover that often burns completely, without allowing native plants to reestablish. In pinyon-juniper woodlands, the combination of Cheatgrass and fire may effectively prevent the re-establishment of the original woodlands (Mitchell 2000).
Invasive Species on National Forests / Invasive Plants
Insect Damage and Disease
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