Also known as: Amur, Tartarian, Morrow’s honeysuckle
Origin: The Asian bush honeysuckles were introduced from various parts of Eurasia in the 1700s and 1800s. They were used as ornamentals, for wildlife plants, and for attempted erosion control. Some are still sold commercially.
Description: Asian bush honeysuckles are deciduous shrubs which grow to 6-15 feet in height. They have opposite, untoothed leaves and white, yellow, pink, rose, or red, tubular flowers in spring, and glossy red (sometimes yellow or orange) berries in summer. These berries grow in pairs at the base of the leaves and often remain in place into winter. Branches are hollow. Asian bush honeysuckles resemble vining Japanese honeysuckle.
Habitat description: This large shrub prefers shaded areas in disturbed woodlands and woodland edges. Its ability to tolerate shade makes it particularly threatening to the Forests of Brown County. Easily spotted in late March, this invasive shrub often produces new green leaves several weeks before our native shrubs do. It does best in more fertile soils, making it most common in the Salt Creek floodplain and only sporadic in the poor soil of the uplands hills. Hundreds of these plants can be seen along Old SR 46 just East of Town across from the County fair grounds. It is also well established near the West entrance to Brown County State Park.
Distribution: Asian bush honeysuckles are commonly found along roadsides, in forest edges, open forests, abandoned fields, pastures, and other relatively open habitats.
Problem: Asian bush honeysuckles grow in dense stands, shading out other vegetation, and some release chemicals into the soil that inhibit the growth of other plants. The result is a reduction in food and cover for wildlife and a potential for erosion of topsoil. Higher rates of nest predation have been found for birds nesting in Amur honeysuckle than in native shrubs. This is due to lack of foliage on the inner parts of branches, and therefore greater visibility of nests from the ground. Seeds are widely spread by birds.
Control: Hand-pulling of seedlings or small plants may be effective, but care should be taken not to disturb the soil more than necessary. Glyphosate (3%) or triclopyr (3%) may be sprayed onto leaves. This can be done anytime during the growing season, but may be best in the early fall when native plants are dormant, but bush honeysuckle is still green. Well-established stands are probably best controlled by cutting stems to ground-level and spraying or painting the cut stumps with a 20% glyphosate solution or a 20% solution of triclopyr and basal oil.
USE PESTICIDES WISELY: Always read the entire pesticide label carefully, follow all mixing and application instructions and wear all recommended personal protective gear and clothing. Contact your state department of agriculture for any additional pesticide use requirements, restrictions or recommendations.