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Archive for April, 2012

In some ways it is a gradual process. It starts with a few scattered Asian Bush Honeysuckles deposited by birds.

Honeysuckle infiltration just beginning in a State Park

A few plants here and there are hardly noticed among the the other plants in a diverse Missouri plant environment.

Honeysuckle just beginning to overtake a woodland

At first, streams remain relatively clear of brush and accessible.

An accessible and unobstructed Missouri stream

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When the invasion begins, sight distances are not as limited.

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This is the traditional Missouri landscape: Diverse, visible, accessible.

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Asian Bush Honeysuckle, an invasive non-native plant, gradually takes over nearly all plant environments in Missouri.

In your face, at eye level!

While the process is gradual, the result is a relentless saturation of nearly all surfaces that are not mowed or paved.

An entire bluff covered in Honeysuckle (almost all of the green bushes)

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Typical severe infestation – over 10 feet tall!

For many years, only the first plants that arrive get tall and spread their seeds. Even when the bushes begin to cover much of the ground, they are not very tall and easily escape notice.

Just another bush in the beginning

Eventually Asian Bush Honeysuckle approaches 15 feet tall. Not only is the ground completely covered but every fall a new crop of seeds saturates the soil below or are spread wherever the birds that eat the berries take them.

ABH bushes over 10 feet tall in a St. Louis park

Large urban and suburban parts of the state are severely infested with Honeysuckle bushes, relentlessly devastating our native plant communities and traditional landscapes.

Severe infestation – there is a 4-5 foot gap under the Honeysuckle canopy

In the city, often landowners enjoy the privacy of a thick Honeysuckle hedge that they didn’t  have to buy or plant.

10-15 foot tall hedge

What they don’t realize is that the bushes form a hedge only because the surrounding areas are mowed, otherwise the plants grow relentlessly everywhere else.

Severe infestation completely covering a creek with thick brush

As you leave the city, the infestations are younger and eventually you reach an area where the plants are just beginning to appear.

Tragically, this window of opportunity, where small plants can be removed by pulling them out of the soil, is often lost.

Initially the plants are easy to spot because they leaf out early in spring and remain leafed out late into fall. Also they have a shallow root system so that even large bushes can be removed.

Knee high early infestation – Many can be pulled out by hand

Because most land owners and managers don’t notice the problem when it first appears, the opportunity to remove Asian Bush Honeysuckle without labor intensive and chemical intensive efforts is lost.

Traditional Missouri landscape

Without prevention and  intervention, relentless saturation of Asian Bush Honeysuckle seems inevitable. If it is not already spreading on your property, expect its arrival soon.

Heavily infested woodland (green bushes)

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