Bush honeysuckle may look like a lovely-looking spring bloomer but they are an invasive plant that is taking over large wooded areas, including the Crouch Sanctuary within Engler Park.
Natives of Asia, in the USA bush honeysuckle has no natural controls. The plants leaf out early, grow fast, spread fast and form dense thickets that crowd out Missouri’s native forest plants and have detrimental effects on wildlife.
That includes birds: the honeysuckle berries are not very nutritious, the rampant growth displaces plants that are more bird friendly, and even flying becomes difficult in the dense vegetation.
Throughout Engler Park there is a severe honeysuckle problem and it is easy to see the rampant growth within the borders of the Crouch Sanctuary where East Ozarks Audubon Society, or EOAS, maintains a bird blind and hiking paths.
They tried clearing out the honeysuckle with burns, but the regrowth was quick and just as bad. Last April, after much discussion, EOAS decided on the cut and spray method: cut the branch and spot spray with Roundup.
Along with help from some Scouts and their family members, three hours of hard labor made a dent — but not a major demolition. It will take years of repeated assault.
But they are a persistent group. They are going to do another three-hour honeysuckle slaughter on Nov. 10.
Fall cutting is highly recommended because the roots are at their most vulnerable point. Volunteers are needed to help out — just show up at the parking lot at 8 a.m. or hike on down to the bird blind. In the event of bad weather the Honeysuckle Slaughter will be rescheduled.
Call Sue Hagan at (573) 546-2864 for more information. If you enjoy walking the paths and visiting the bird blind, this is an opportunity to help keep the Crouch Sanctuary a wonderful place for birds, plants and visitors.