Earthworms’ Castings: Honeysuckle Sweep For Healthy Habitat March 5-13

Honeysuckle Sweep

With Jean Ponzi

Spring around St. Louis sprouts both Good News, that first refreshing flush of green, and Bad News: almost all the early leaves we see will be on only one terribly invasive species, Bush Honeysuckle.

Sure it’s pretty, with snowy flowers, scarlet berries and bright leaves. But this is a plant way too far out of its natural place. In its own native Asian environments, insects and other plants keep Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) growing in balance. Here, as an import cut off from its natural ecological checks, the rampant growth of this one plant quickly crowds out our native Midwestern flowers, bushes and even trees.

When one species can dominate, the local biodiversity of insects, birds and plants, terrestrial and aquatic life, is critically disrupted – and can be destroyed!
Back to the Good News: you can help!

Organizations in the regional network BiodiverseCity St. Louis are coordinating spring honeysuckle removal events during one week, March 5-13. The Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habitat aims to raise public awareness about this invasive plant, and promotes replanting with native species. Volunteers are needed to help remove Bush Honeysuckle from parks and other public areas. Adults and youth helping in these pulls will learn how to safely and effectively eradicate the plant.

Homeowners are encouraged to also remove Bush Honeysuckle from private land. Is this invasive plant your “privacy hedge?” Partners in the Honeysuckle Sweep provide excellent resources to help you discover and enjoy native plant options to replace the problem species when you take it out. Find links to St. Louis Audubon Society’s “Bring Conservation Home” urban habitat restoration program, area native plant workshops and sales, and more at www.biodiverseCitySTL.org.

Your efforts during the Honeysuckle Sweep can help stop bush honeysuckle before it spreads uncontrollably into Missouri’s Ozarks. You’ll be helping to clear space to restore healthy habitat in our community parks and along area streams.

Wear sturdy shoes and dress for the weather. Bring work gloves and your refillable water bottle. Honeysuckle pulling in early spring is good outdoor work. You’ll have fun, and make a difference.

Honeysuckle Sweep Events
(listing as of mid-February)
March 5 – 9 am to noon – Deer Creek Park
March 6 – 11 am to 2 pm – Emmenegger Nature Park, Kirkwood
March 9 – 9 am to noon – Forest Park
March 10 – 9 am to noon – Shaw Nature Reserve
March 12 – 9 am to noon – Paul A. Schroeder Park, Manchester
March 12 – 10 am to 3 pm – The College School LaBarque Creek Campus
March 12 – 1 pm to 4 pm – Lemay Park
March 13 – 9 am to noon – Kirkwood Park

Honeysuckle Sweep partners include Deer Creek Watershed Alliance, Forest Park Forever, Great Rivers Greenway, Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri Department of Conservation, Open Space Council, St. Louis Audubon Society, Shaw Nature Reserve, Wild Ones, and others.

For Sweep event details, registration links and additional locations please visit online at www.biodiverseCitySTL.org.

Artists Inspire Honeysuckle Action
What do artists do with too-abundant material? Woodworker Dale Dufer makes one-of-a-kind tables using Bush Honeysuckle branches for their lively legs. His project Think About Tables transforms a problem into a resource, teaching adults and teens how to build their own unique, useful piece. Designer Sarah Loynd created a full-length honeysuckle gown, that dances this message, beautifully. She also curated the 2015 Bauhaus Botany art exhibition at Maryville University, featuring wearable and decorative pieces made from the wood, bark, berries and leaves of this invasive species.
See this work displayed at the Missouri Botanical Garden, March 5-13, during the Honeysuckle Sweep.