Invasive plant species, bush honeysuckle, taking over Central Illinois woodlands

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PEORIA COUNTY, Ill (WMBD) — An invasive plant species is becoming a problem throughout Central Illinois.

The plant species known as bush honeysuckle continues to take root in Central Illinois.

The shrub originated in northeast China, made it to the United States and could just be in your backyard.

“It escaped, and it went out into the nature and the woodlands and it just spreads by birds through their droppings,” said Patrick Kirchhofer, manager of Peoria County Farm Bureau.

Kirchhofer says honeysuckle steals sunlight and nutrients from trees and prevents them from growing.

“None of the native species have an opportunity to grow underneath it’s canopy, because it shades it so quickly,” said Kirchhofer.

It’s a word all too familiar to home owner Larry Baer who constantly fights the plant taking over his property.

“As a homeowner, it’s in my flower beds everywhere, it’s always coming up so I have to pull it up. I have to try to get rid of it. It’s not a bad plant to try to pull up one but when there’s 1500 of them, then it gets to be a real job,” said Larry Baer, home owner.

Mike McKim specializes in getting rid of the shrub and explains the removal process.

“We’ll shred it, and we’ll treat it with a cut stump treatment right there if there are larger trees, and then you’re done with it. A lot of areas where it’s smaller, and there’s a lot of little chutes that you’re not gonna cut. We’ll mulch it down, shred it, come back and do a foliar spray. We’ll spray the resprouts,” said McKim.

Kirchhofer says it’s vital to do your part in saving the woodlands.

“If we don’t do anything, we are gonna continue to lose more of our woodlands to this invasive species and we are not gonna have the diversity we want in a woodlands. We want a variety of trees a variety of shrubs,” said Kirchhofer.

Goats are very fond of bush honeysuckle and will eat the younger, shorter plants.

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