But these lush plants have a darker side. Since Amur honeysuckle and other Asian species were introduced to the United States in the 1800s, birds have spread their seeds across the eastern part of the country, creating dense thickets everywhere from Vermont to Ohio.
The deep shade cast by honeysuckle has devastated countless native plants. “Spring and summer wildflowers are just annihilated,” says ecologist Amanda Rodewald of Ohio State University.
So, too, are tree seedlings such as sugar maple as well as native herbs. At Ohio’s Miami University, ecologist David Gorchov compared the survival of these plants in areas where honeysuckle was removed to areas where the bushes were left intact.
“We thought that some native plants would be affected by honeysuckle, while others would not be,” he says. “But we found that everything we looked at was affected.”
Tree seedling survival was reduced up to 70 percent, and herb growth and reproduction rates plunged by up to 80 percent, primarily because of the shade cast by honeysuckle, Gorchov hypothesizes. Read the entire article.
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