Honeysuckle: Scourge of the Wild Woods

By Emily Render

Augusta Honeysuckle Hike April 19 Will Help Stop the Spread Along the Katy Trail

Honeysuckle sounds like a sweet little plant, but don’t be fooled. A few species of invasive bush honeysuckle have ecologists on high alert.

Originally planted as ornamentals in urban areas, bush honeysuckle (Amur honeysuckle and Morrow’s honeysuckle) is spreading to the Missouri countryside, strangling native plants and trees in their wake. Birds eat its berries in the city, fly out to the woods, and spread its seed underneath their perches. Its monstrous effects are due to the fact that it greens up before most native species and grows from 6 to 20 feet tall. The early green-up shades out everything growing underneath it, including native plants and wildflowers, and when thickets get too thick, it limits physical access to property. Some research suggests it also promotes the spread of tick-borne disease.

Preventing bush honeysuckle from infesting farm or woodlands is one of the best investments a landowner can make. The goal of the Augusta Honeysuckle Hike is to limit the spread along the Katy Trail.

You can sign up for a guided honeysuckle hike on April 19. Naturalists from Missouri State Parks will demonstrate how to identify bush honeysuckle and remove it while taking a walk on Missouri’s most popular state park. Whether you’re a landowner or a concerned citizen, you’ll not want to miss this training. And this isn’t just an educational event: Research suggests that edges of bush honeysuckle invasion, such as trails, “are ideal locations to focus eradication efforts, and thickets along the edge of the current distribution are most likely to succumb to control measures and allow the re-establishment of native species.” By attending this event, you are helping to protect the Missouri countryside.

The Honeysuckle Hike begins at the Augusta Trailhead on the Katy Trail at 10:00 a.m. Those under 18 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For those interested in helping to remove the honeysuckle, tools and protective gear will be provided by Missouri State Parks.

Following the Honeysuckle Hike, all are invited to an after party at the Augusta Brew Haus on the trail from 12:30-2 p.m.  The Texas Giants will be playing at the brewery and brats and cold drinks will be available.

For more information on the hike and the latest news about bush honeysuckle, please visit www.StopHoneysuckle.org.