Blog Archives

Burning Bush: Beauty IS the beast

Check out this video about burning bush.

A burning problem: burning bush

bbush1Burning bush, Euonymus alatus is a deciduous shrub that grows to 6-20 feet tall and wide.  Despite its invasive nature, it is widely available in the nursery industry and wildly popular with homeowners.  Burning bush is fast growing and easy to spread.   Burning bush can be an attractive hedge or foundation shrub in the yard, but it will also invade a variety of natural sites including high quality woodlands, wetlands and even prairies.  Once established, it forms dense thickets that displace native species and hinder natural succession.  Burning bush is native to Asia and was first introduced into the US in the 1860’s for its red fall color.  It continues to be sold and planted as an ornamental, even though it is considered one of the top invasive exotic species in the Midwest to avoid by most experts.

WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED?
bbush
It has been widely planted as an ornamental for its spectacular red autumn foliage, fruits and for its tolerance to salt.  It spreads from seed, is dispersed by birds and colonizes by root suckers.  It thrives in the shade where it displaces spring wildflowers and other natives.  It is a very adaptable plant and can thrive in a variety of sites, wreaking havoc on a variety of native ecosystems.

MANAGEMENT OPTIONS
Seedlings and young plants can be hand-pulled when the soil is moist to insure removal of the roots system.  The shallow and fibrous root systems can be removed with a spading fork and pulled with a weed wrench.  On larger plants cutting alone results in thicker, more dense re-growth.  Cutting should only be followed by painting the stump with a herbicide.

It can be effectively controlled using any of several readily available herbicides such as glyphosate (RoundUp),  tryclopyr or imazapyr.  Foliar application has proven effective in controlling these species, but requires more herbicide and can have greater impacts to non-target species.    By cutting the shrubs and painting just the stumps, burning bush and many other invasive exotics can be controlled using less chemicals.  Always read and follow the product label and understand Federal and State requirements.

While burning bush is an attractive plant, there are many more, more attractive native shrubs.  When considering planting, select native plants.  Native plants are adapted to local conditions and will usually do better over time than non-native species.  They also provide additional ecological benefits in addition to adding color and character to the yard.  There are several native plants available in nurseries with vibrant red fall color.  These include Virginia sweetspire, some viburnums, some serviceberries, black gum, Virginia creeper, hazelnut and currants.

Article by Ann Bonner

USE PESTICIDES WISELY: ALWAYS READ THE ENTIRE PESTICIDE LABEL CAREFULLY, FOLLOW ALL MIXING AND APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS AND WEAR ALL RECOMMENDED PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR AND CLOTHING. CONTACT YOUR STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR ANY ADDITIONAL PESTICIDE USE REQUIREMENTS, RESTRICTIONS OR RECOMMENDATIONS.

Cultivating Awareness: Ornamental Plants Invading Natural Areas

MIPN has just completed a video that demonstrates the impacts of a few popular ornamental plants (common buckthorn, Japanese barberry, burning bush, and Callery pear) on natural areas in the Midwest. Please watch and share with your colleagues and neighbors.

The smart phone app mentioned in the video can be downloaded for free from the Apple store for iPhone or iPad. The Android version is coming soon.

Escaping Ornamentals…Is your garden spreading into the countryside?

Burning bush excaping

Burning bush excaping

We all want our yards to look nice and many of us enjoy planting and caring for the plants that enhance our landscapes. Gardeners do important work, but can be unknowing spreaders of some dangerous non-native invasive species. From bush honeysuckle, barberry, burningbush and ornamental grasses, gardeners are often responsible for the spread of these invasive species into Ohio’s natural areas.

Burningbush, or Euonymus alata is one of our most popular landscape shrubs. Burningbush is nicely shaped and attractive all year, but in the fall, it sparks to life with vibrant red foliage. This shrub’s color and because it seeds well and is easy to dig make it popular among gardeners.

But burningbush has a dark side. It is an invasive species; a non-native species whose introduction causes economic, human, and/or environmental harm. In the case of burningbush, it spreads out beyond our yards into the surrounding woods displacing native shrubs and tree seedlings. Once established, burningbush grows so densely that it out-competes most native plants. With native plants diminished, the wildlife suffers and the ecosystem starts to unravel.

Japanese barberry

Japanese barberry

Several other gardening favorites have the same bad habit of spreading into natural areas. These include bush honeysuckle, privet, Japanese barberry, autumn olive, and ornamental grasses like Miscanthus

Bush honeysuckles are prolific shrubs with fragrant spring flowers and red fall berries. They blanket roadsides, waste areas, and many wooded yards and parks. Japanese barberry is a small shrub with purplish foliage and small thorns, tending to grow in shady woodland sites. Autumn olive is a large shrub that can reach 15 feet and infiltrates woodland edges. Ornamental grasses create thick mats in waste areas and prairies and create fire hazards.

Some might question the damage that invasive species cause. Green is good, right? But in nature not all plants are created equal. While these invasive species have berries that are eaten by wildlife, research shows that the nutrient content in honeysuckle and autumn olive fruit is inferior to native fruit like viburnum, Virginia creeper, sassafras, and spice bush. 

So if you have these invasive species in your garden, consider removing and replacing them with native plants. Several native shrubs have beautiful fall color, nice flowers, nutrient rich berries, and ecosystem benefits. These include Virginia sweetspire, smooth or fragrant sumac, nannyberry viburnum, arrowwood viburnum, blackhaw viburnum.

The good news is that invasive species are controllable. They typically pull out of the ground easily after a rain. Big ones can be cut down and their stumps treated with an approved herbicide. The best way to keep them from returning is to fill the spot with desirable vegetation. As with all things, it is easier to deal with them when they are small and few and far between as opposed to waiting until you have an infestation.

To learn more about these invasive species visit these links:

burning bush

bush honeysuckle

privet

Japanese barberry

autumn olive

Miscanthus

You can also contact Eric Boyda of the Appalachian Ohio Weed Control Partnership by phone at 740-534-6578 or email at appalachianohioweeds@gmail.com.  Article author: Ann Bonner