Managing Pesky Honeysuckle

Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is an invasive species in the United States that was imported from east Asia for hedges. It’s a rapidly growing shrub that forms dense thickets, which block light and prevent native plants from growing. Large swaths of Ohio have been taken over by this pesky plant. Small growths can be pulled up by hand, but larger infestations can be difficult to deal with.

Photo: Fanghong, license

Many sources recommend dealing with honeysuckle by trimming it as close to the ground as possible, then treating the cut ends with chemicals such as glyphosate. Unfortunately, glyphosate can be toxic to mammals. Enright members have found that controlled burning can be an effective alternative.

As with other methods, a first step is to trim back the honeysuckle bush. Then, singe the stumps and any remaining greenery. It is not necessary to burn the stems, just singing the outside will be effective at killing the plant. This is most efficiently done using a propane tank and torch, such that you are only burning what you need to. Of course, care should be taken not to allow flames to spread, and dry windy days should be avoided. It’s best to use this technique only when the surrounding area is damp, such as after a heavy rain.

A forest guard uses a propane torch. National Archives Photo/Public Domain

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