What is that shrub?

What Is That Shrub?
It’s blooming now all over the place. You can find it crowding wooded areas, filling in the edges of the roadside, popping up volunteer throughout the yard, and even occasionally incorporated into the landscape. So what is plant we are talking about? It’s Amur Honeysuckle.
Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) was introduced by the New York Botanic Garden back in the late 1800’s. It was widely planted for wildlife cover and to control soil erosion and has since escaped those areas and established itself into the native areas throughout much of the eastern U.S and on into the Great Plains where it now grows in rampant, choking out much of the native plant population in the process.
In our area, it will commonly be found taking over “natural” areas with its aggressive growth. It starts as a small sprout but quickly reaches greater size, becoming a large bushy plant of 10-15′ in height, with older plants becoming small bushy trees of 20′ or more. It leafs out very early in the spring, producing vigorous growth of bright green leaves and shoots. By this time of the year it is blooming, producing white to yellow flowers typical of honeysuckle that cover all portions of the plant. Small bright red fruits follow and by fall, plants are covered in these colorful fruits, soon to be eaten by birds and spread into new areas. There is a lot about this plant that is actually visually attractive, however the reality is that it’s an ecological disaster.

Amur Honeysuckle is so aggressive that is quickly takes over areas, choking out the native growth in the process…native vegetation that native wildlife need to exist. It thrives in woodland areas, particularly along the timber’s edge where it gets so thick it is almost impossible to penetrate. Soon it has choked out most naturally occurring growth, including the seedlings of the trees that make up our wooded areas. It also spreads readily into all areas of our yards and landscapes, and if left unchecked it will quickly engulf even the most established plantings. It is an aggressive menace that will choke out everything in its path.

Control and eradication is highly recommended. Young plants can be easily pulled from the ground, especially when the ground is soft and moist. Larger plants will need to be dug out or cut down and treated with stump killer…don’t forget this important step! Untreated stumps will sprout back with a vengeance, very quickly regenerating new growth, making the problem even worse than before. Immediately after cutting the bush out, treat the fresh cut with Fertilome Cut Vine and Stump Killer to prevent this from happening.