- Associated Press - Saturday, April 11, 2015

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Spring is one of the best times for hikers along the Kentucky River Palisades to see wildflowers and colorful native plants found in few other places in the region. But a group of invaders - shrubs, vines, groundcovers and other types of plants that are not native to the area -threaten to choke out the delicate local species that make for scenic hikes.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports (https://bit.ly/1Cxm5We ) the Palisades have suffered widespread damage from the unchecked growth of the invaders. Plants brought from other parts of the world can go wild because they have no natural predators.

Garlic mustard, wintercreeper euonymus, Chinese privet and kudzu are some of the biggest invaders. But the most vicious one is Asian bush honeysuckle.

“I tell people that honeysuckle is why this tree-hugging environmentalist became a mass murderer,” said Clare Sipple, who manages the Lower Howard’s Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve in Clark County. “No telling how much of that stuff I’ve killed.”

She said honeysuckle has plagued her 338-acre preserve.



“We have a dedicated group of volunteers who work nine months a year clearing honeysuckle, and they have made a huge difference,” she said. “Once you get the invasives out, the natives start coming back.”

The battle against the honeysuckle is on also at Fayette County’s Raven Run and Floracliff nature preserves.

Asian bush honeysuckle, which was brought her from China in the late 1800s, has been a growing threat to the region since the 1970s, Julian Campbell, a botanist and authority on Kentucky native plants, said. The irony is that it’s endangered in Japan, where it was native. But now it’s taking over forests in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

The most common way to get rid of honeysuckle is to cut it off just above the ground level and spray the remaining portion with a herbicide. It kills the plant, but it doesn’t stop it from coming up right next to one that was just cleared.

Campbell has been thinking about ways to clear the honeysuckle and has begun a small effort on hikes he leads. Those who want to help can donate $10 to regional conservation organizations or go with Campbell to clear the honeysuckle. For more information, email campmeet@gmail.com.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com

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