Pretty Asian Predator on the Bay


(Photo by Ray Johnson)

This display of flora had been growing all summer, but flourished fully immediately after the heavy rains of Tropical Storm Hanna. The flowers’ fragrance, which was previously delicate and vaguely reminiscent of jasmine, became noticeably nose-irritating during its peak. I wasn’t aware of any fragrant vines that could trail so fast and so prodigiously in the Northeast and was interested in knowing if this was an allergen-producing plant or just a pretty one. When I say that this plant was growing fast and full, I mean that this picturesque vine stretched to over 200 feet wide and about 20 feet high, at its highest point.

It’s not every day that we see (or smell) flowers growing in our Bay’s backyards, so I wanted to get to the bottom of this. Not wanting to delay my botanical sleuthing by consulting with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I turned to the authority on every subject, the Internet, to help me solve the little mystery – of “The Flourishing Flowers”.

See what I found about this invasive and potentially destructive plant after the jump.

A couple of search words later, the mystery was solved (I think). Our suspect is believed to be none other than the Asian Bush Honeysuckle. Compare the picture of our Bay overgrowth to the one on the Vegetation Management Guideline brochure at the Illinois Natural History Survey website and they look almost the same.

The Missouri Department of Conservation describes the Bush Honeysuckle as an invasive plant in their useful online brochure:

Not to be confused with Missouri’s native vine honeysuckles, invasive honeysuckles such as Morrow’s and Amur’s are shrubbly natives of Asia. Here in the United States, where they have no natural controls, they leaf out in April, grow fast, spread fast and form dense thickets that crowd out Missouri’s native forest plants. If you’ve got a giant green thicket in your woods, you may have a bush honeysuckle infestation.

If you have this preying bush growing wild in your yard and are worried that it may not give room to other plant life, Mr. Honeysuckle sells a ‘popper’ tool supposedly made specifically to help uproot these pesky plants. Even though the flowers are are drying up, there are things we can do in every season to inhibit its growth for next season.

I may be wrong about this plant being the Asian Honeysuckle, but based on pictures on Wikipedia and Purdue University information sites, I feel somewhat confident that it is. While it may not be an immediate or serious danger to our indigenous plant life, but we do need to keep a close eye on anything that can disturb our already fragile ecological system. While we may think of our city as a harsh environment for living things, we need to remember that even cities can be welcoming to healthy or invasive plant life.

Anyone with information about this plant, please feel free to join this discussion. Those who would like to join in New York State’s effort to encourage healthy biodiversity can start with this webpage from the Department of Environmental Conservation.


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