Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council

IDENTIFICATION AND CONTROL OF BUSH HONEYSUCKLE IN THE TENNESSEE VALLEY Andy Prewett, and Amy Werkheiser, The Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama, Huntsville, AL, OMI Engineering, Inc., Huntsville, AL. (


Asiatic bush honeysuckle is running rampant in the Tennessee Valley. For two years now, the Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama has taken on the task of identifying, locating and eradicating bush honeysuckle from our property on Monte Sano Mountain. The Land Trust has more than 3400 acres of preserved green space in Madison and Limestone counties in North Alabama. Bush honeysuckle is present in a disproportionate amount of that acreage. As an example, of the nearly 1000 acres in our Monte Sano Preserve, bush honeysuckle is present on more than forty percent of that acreage. It is spreading at a rate of ¾ to 1 acre per year. Our preserve is adjacent to Monte Sano State Park, which consists of 2140 acres of prime forest virtually in downtown Huntsville. The State Park is also overrun with Honeysuckle. However they do not have the reserves of volunteers or manpower to address this concern.

Bush honeysuckle is a danger to a number of "at risk" species of plants. It is overtaking wildflower areas and choking out forest growth. We started evaluating the presence of bush honeysuckle by hiking transects and creating some baseline data. We mapped the data we collected and used this information to create an eradication and control plan.

To complete these tasks the Land Trust needed funding outside of our own operating and stewardship budgets. We applied for and received a thirty thousand dollar Private Stewardship Grant from the Fish and Wildlife service. We received a private donation from a Land Trust Member of $1500. From a land donor, and member of the Land Trust, we received an indirect donation of $5000 to eradicate honeysuckle specifically on Monte Sano Mountain. This donation went to hire workers from the Breaking Free Mission to cut honeysuckle. This donor has expressed an interest in making additional donations of this kind. We continue to look for other grant opportunities. It has taken a whole host of volunteers and organizations to implement our eradication plan. Students from Alabama A&M University's Forestry Department, the Sierra Club, the Huntsville Wildflower Society and Huntsville Botanical Gardens, The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Three Springs Inc. girls and boys, our own Trail Care Crew, and various individual volunteers.

Because of the variety of volunteers with a broad spectrum of skills and abilities, we have to tailor our eradication efforts to the volunteer group we have on a given workday. Our primary method of eradication is the cut and soak method. In some instances we will treat the honeysuckle with foliar spraying. We have used weed eaters with brush blades. Our less skilled volunteers have simply cut the honeysuckle down. The theory being that it will take some time for the plant to regenerate and thus slow down its spread rate. We return to the cut areas with backpack sprayers and treat the new growth.

To educate the community of the problems of bush honeysuckle we have posted an eradication plan notice on the kiosks in the parking lots of the properties we are actively working on. We work with Land Trust neighbors by providing tips and techniques for properly eradicating honeysuckle. We have had several articles written about our struggle in the Huntsville Times. Last October we presented the first Tennessee Valley Invasive Plant Symposium where we had more than fifty people in attendance. The popularity of this event has encouraged us to make this an annual event.

We continue to try new methods, look for new chemicals, and find more bodies to try to make a dent in this overwhelming problem. We are pursuing additional ways to spread the word about bush honeysuckle to the community at large. We could cut every stem of honeysuckle on our property, but if we don't address the problem in it's entirety we will continue to "roll the rock uphill" and most likely get steamrolled.

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Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.       Page last modified: Monday, April 29, 2002
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