Many of have probably been noticing the bright red berries of Amur Honeysuckle, or Lonicera Maackii, growing along highways and interstates throughout the Bluegrass region. This is an extremely invasive, non-native, upright, deciduous shrubs that can grow to be 6-15 feet tall. Amur Honeysuckle has dark green leaves that end in a sharp point at the tip and the underside of the leaf has hair along the veins. In the spring, they bloom profusely with non-fragrant white blossoms – not to be confused with the fragrant varieties of Honeysuckle vine (which are just as invasive).
This bush Honeysuckle is adaptable to a wide range of habitats. They are most commonly found in the understory of woodlands as well as the edges of marshes. These vigorous shrubs shade out native vegetation, particularly in the woodland understory. They are able to out-compete native wildflowers for light and other resources. Bush Honeysuckles green up earlier in the spring than most other plants, giving them an advantage over other species. Each produces abundant amounts of seed which are spread by birds and other animals.
This is not a plant you want growing in your home garden and it is best to use aggressive control techniques to remove seedlings when they are small. Hand-pulling of you seedlings is an acceptable method, but you must remember to get all the root to prevent resprouting. Annual prescribed burns are particularly effective during spring leaf-out and once larger plants have been removed from the site.
**Trivia: At the State Capital and Salato Wildlife Refuge, both in Frankfort, Kentucky, you can find established “groves” of Amur Honeysuckle. The upright shrubs have been severely limb-pruned from the ground up to 5 – 6 feet, turning this shrub into small trees. They provide a light and airy canopy and are extremely pretty to look at. But don’t let the attractive bark fool you – this is still a very invasive plant.
**Note: If you are a gardener who uses chemical herbicides, established plantings of Amur Honeysuckle can be cut and treated with glyphosate (20-25% active ingredient) or basal bark treatment (triclopyr, 12.5% active ingredient). Use foliar applications of glyphosate to seedlings (1% active ingredient) and larger plants (2 % active ingredient). Metsulfuron-methyl plus a surfactant is also effective.