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In the garden: First day for honeysuckle

Sitting outside at my desk, I suddenly wondered "What's that wonderful fragrance?" Well, d'oh!

My Southern friends laugh at me, because I think of honeysuckle as a plant, not a weed. So, my office area is coming together. Slowly, since the summer is so weird, but coming together.

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nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

All weeds are plants, not all plants are weeds; not all weeds are bad, but bad weeds can be very real monsters. The determining factors are if it is a plant out of place, and the place can still cohabit equably with it. Of course your Southern friends laugh at you, Japanese honeysuckle (the vine) is an invasive species down here, like kudzu or Amur privet. An invasive plant is one that "is not native and has the ability to grow and reproduce sufficiently in undisturbed areas to upset or alter the habitat and the life cycles of native plant and animal life."*

That stuff can strangle trees and form mats which shade out both bushes and ephemerals. One cannot realize how bad it can get until one has dragged truckloads of it out of the woods; it can actually change its' available environment into a monoculture by shortcircuiting the natural succession of species. Absent any disturbance it is a slo/mo progression, with disturbance succession can look like this in worst case scenarios: Native woods disturbed by something (logging, fire, tornado, pine beetles, etc.), honeysuckle then kills off remaining understory/privet kills off honeysuckle, kudzu kills off privet and then bamboo kills off kudzu.

All you can really do at that point is bring in the bulldozers, further degrading already poor soils.

The native honeysuckles don't have a nice smell, but they aren't environmental stormtroopers, either.**

*per Paul Thomas, Professor at the Ga. College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

**What can I say?, I spend a lot of time with the Native Plant Society.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

It is simply amazing to walk into a nursery and count the invasive species on sale. I guess it makes sense, they are easy to propagate, grow fast and have no real predators....

So, up at the Garden, people will donate things to us and we try to be really tactful. "How kind of you!, what a colorful nandina!"....and then it gets quietly buried in the compost heap.....One doesn't want to hurt their feelings, but we also are supposed to be an educational organization; it can be a fine line.