on how Southern landowners have used pre-established honeysuckle to their benefit
as a deer browse source. One thing we should have done a better job at (and I will
take blame for this) is that landowners elsewhere should not introduce this plant
to their properties, especially in the upper Midwest.
My good friend Aaron McCullough of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was
kind enough to share his expertise on the dangers of honeysuckle:
Japanese honeysuckle readily invades open natural communities, often by seed
spread by birds. An aggressive colonizer of successional fields, this vine also
will invade mature forest and open woodlands such as post oak flatwoods and
pin oak flatwoods. Forests with either natural or unnatural openings are often
invaded by Japanese honeysuckle when birds drop seeds into these light gap areas.
Deep shading reduces the amount of invasion.
2. Life History
Japanese honeysuckle climbs and drapes over native vegetation, shading it out.
It is capable of completely covering herbaceous and understory plants, and climbing
trees to the canopy. The semi-evergreen condition of this honeysuckle allows
for growth both prior to and after dormancy of other deciduous plants. The prolific
growth covers and smothers vegetation present including understory shrubs and
trees in forested communities. Although this prolonged growth period is beneficial
to the plant, it is also beneficial in controlling the plant. Vegetative runners
are most prolific in the open sun and will resprout where touching the soil,
forming mats of new plants. This honeysuckle will display little growth under
moderate shade. In deep shade, runners develop but often die back. Flowering
and seed development are heaviest in open-sun areas. Seedling establishment
and growth is slow in the first 2 years of development of a new honeysuckle
3. Effects Upon Natural Areas
This aggressive vine seriously alters or destroys the understory and herbaceous
layers of the communities it invades, including prairies, barrens, glades, flatwoods,
savannas, floodplain and upland forests. Japanese honeysuckle also may alter
understory bird populations in forest communities.
4. Current Status
Japanese honeysuckle is categorized as an exotic weed under the Illinois Exotic
Weed Control Act of 1987. As such, its commercial sale in Illinois is prohibited.
Please keep these factors in mind and opt for native browse plantings when planning
your next project.
Dan Schmidt, Editor