Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Is that Honeysuckle from around here?

Tuesdays are devoted to weeds and other invasives.

How about Japanese Honeysuckle? This plant is a mid-canopy forest edge dweller. Japanese honeysuckle is very like the native honeysuckle but much more invasive. Of course, it is silly, you say. It's not from around here.

The best way but also the most laborious way is to pull out your invasives, root and all. Do it like voting in Ohio - early and often. Actually, you want to start attacking the plant after its winter root stores are expended on spring growth. In the fall, the roots have stored energy from the summer growing season. Unless you have been hacking away at the foliage all summer, you probably don't want to mess with it until the spring. There are naturally, some things you will need to remember when you do go after it.

If you pull this sucker up, get the whole root or as much as possible. It will come back from even the smallest segments. Not only does it bloom and produce seeds, but it is also a runner and produces offshoots and suckers as it grows. Another name for this type of plant would be a colonizer. Do NOT put this puppy in you compost pile. Colonizer - remember. Let it dry up in a place it can't root and burn it in you annual bonfire, or bag it and drop it off. I prefer the bonfire method, because I am not adding to the landfill issue. Reason #2: I can use the ashes to supplement the soil or to cover the ice in the winter.

One way to tell the difference between Japanses Honeysuckle and the native species is to look at where the leaves join the stem. In a native honeysuckle, the leaves actually form one unit from the stem, where the leaves on a Japanese honeysuckle would be opposite distinct leaves. Check carefully before you pull, because some of the native honeysuckles can be quite rare. If you're not sure what you have, you can contact your local extension office or leave it until someone more knowledgeable can help you identify the mystery honeysuckle.

This weed will change the composition of your understory including what birds you see. It prefers full sun but is often found in partial shade. Go get rid of it. ASAP. You'll be glad you did.
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