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Japanese Honeysuckle

Posted by bertspro 7/MD (My Page) on
Fri, Jan 18, 13 at 12:00

I have a TON of this stuff growing behind the house that I bought a few months ago. A tree in my back yard just came down a few weeks ago and now there is no privacy for the house at all as there is a street going about 50 yards behind my property line. Anyone got any thoughts on planting shade trees or the like in the patch of vines? Also, it looks like there are several kinds of vines competing back there, the Jap Honeysuckle is evergreen, and there appears to be a non-evergreen/decidious vine. I'm in Central MD. Any input is greatly appreciated.
also - the first thing I plan to do is get in the patch and try to clear the vines off of the trees that are trying to grow up through it. Still looking for ideas though. thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

First of all, do plan on getting rid of the japanese honeysuckle. It is a terrible invasive and smothers other plants. The deciduous vine might be Virginia creeper, wood vamp (Decumaria barbara) or even poison ivy. Any of them can be identified now if you take some good pictures.

Are you wanting evergreen plant suggestions? If the area is full sun, consider American holly or wax myrtle. Otherwise, if you don't need evergreen, consider any number of native oak trees, maples, or even pines. Frankly a mix is best and most natural looking. Pines grow fast and can be easily cut down once the other trees fill in.

Yes, you will want to clear the vines if you want your new trees to have the best chance of getting started.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Thanks for the tips. I've attached another pic of some of the vines. Turns out there are at least 3 kinds of vines in there. One is pretty woody, and has some small red berries in spots. Another has thorns and is purple. Ill attach some more pics now. Thanks again.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

More pics


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Close up pics of the berries and the twigs would be best.

Colors of berries:

japanese honeysuckle - dark blue berries
decumaria barbara/wood vamp - brown seeds, not berries
wild rose - red "hips"
poison ivy - white berries
cat brier - blue berries, green stems
Virginia creeper - blue berries


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

ok i'll plan on getting more pics when I am able to get out there in the daylight next. Hopefully the sun is up before I go off to work one day this week.
I haven't seen any of the kinds of fruits you describe above, just bright red berries in clusters on dormant looking vines.
I appreciate all your help.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

I wonder if it could be Bittersweet vines then?
Obviously you do have japanese honeysuckle, I can see the leaves. But figuring out the other vines in there will take some research.

The rose hips do kind of look like berries. Google for pictures of "multiflora rose hips".

Here is a link that might be useful: multiflora rose hips


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

I'm also in Central Maryland. That mess is usually japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose, oriental bittersweet and porcelainberry. If that's what you have, it all needs to go, or your new trees won't stand a chance. Leyland Cypress seems to be the screen of choice around here, although it's not native to the East Coast. (It's a cross between two Pacific Coast cypresses, bred in England.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Porcelainberry


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Gack, what a mess! Probably a good first step is to ID what you've got growing there and know thine enemy, haha. The bright red berries on vines are most likely Oriental bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus.

How much of an area do you have to clear?

I have been working on eradicating the invasive plants in my yard since 2005. Cleared tons of Norway maples, Buckthorn, Bittersweet, both shrub and vine honeysuckle, burning bush, etc. out of a 1.25 acre lot, but there is still more to go in the way back.

I have done almost all of the work here by hand, because the invasives were intermixed with some nice native trees and lots of nice Crabs. But looking back, it probably would have been easier to bring in some heavy equipment to clear cut certain areas and get it done in one fell swoop.

Does your municipality allow for seasonal burning? I've been burning the excess brush for 10 years and it's finally slowing down some and I will be make some wildlife brush piles in the way back with most of what remains. There were years I made brush piles of invasives in the middle of other invasives and burned some of them out. You just have to be careful about damage to any of the plants you want to keep.

After clearing I would plant a nice mixed border, with native evergreens and deciduous trees/shrubs.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Wow, so much great info, thanks everyone. I have been meaning to get some more pictures but it is tough, as it is usually pretty dark when I leave the house in the morning during the week, and very dark by the time I get home in the evening, and last weekend we had about 2 inches of snow covering all the vines so I couldn't get pics of anything. Anyway, through reading the posts and Googling some of the suggestions, I believe I have some bittersweet in there, I know there is Japanese honeysuckle, and there are probably a few other nasty species growing in there as well.
I've also noticed some trees/saplings and the like growing up and in some cases through the thick stuff. Below is one that I went out and cleared the vines off a while ago, the bark is kind of orangy, it is about 10-12 feet tall, woody, and seems to have shoots coming out a few feet away from the main stump. I don't know if it a real tree or some kind of woody weed, but it's got to be worth a shot at letting grow, so I cleared the crap off of it and cleared a few yards circle around it as well.
Also this morning I was walking my dog and noticed in a part of the property where there is thick Jap Honeysuckle there are a few trees, ranging from probably 6 ft to 12-15 ft, with a nice ornamental looking form and red bark growing right through thick clumps of vine. This can't possibly be anything of any worth I figure, seeing how quickly it must grow to have survived.
Anyway, here is a pic of the orang-ish bark tree(?) that I have. Again, thanks so much for the input


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Hi bert, just off the cuff, and without seeing leaves etc., I would guess that young tree is Morus alba, white mulberry. Also very invasive, tough to kill because it sprouts vigorously from the roots. You have to use herbicide on the cut stump.

To be safe, if you are unsure of an ID you can wait until the plant leafs out in the spring. But if it is white mulberry (red mulberry is native) I would get rid of it.

I went through a similar process when I started to ID the plants growing in my back yard. Felt kind of deflated upon discovering that plant after plant was invasive. Not all, but a lot of them. And most of these plants sprouted from seeds or berries that were spread from the specimens that were planted by the original homeowners in neighborhood! That was the crap they were selling at the nurseries. Now, a lot of them are on the Mass. prohibited plant list.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

I looked it up and it might be white mulberry, though most of the pics on google image search are of older established trees and the bark looks a lot different. The tree also has a similar form to the other trees in my yard, and I've thought for a while that it was growing off of a shoot of a nearby tree, so based on your comment about shooting from the roots, that might well be the case.

So what is the problem with this tree? It looks like a normal looking tree from what I can tell, if somewhat invasive and short lived. Based on the pics on Google I'd rather see it back there than the mess that is currently overtaken the area.

Great info, thanks


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Well there are more invasive trees, but Morus alba is a weedy tree and not terribly attractive (IMO). It does make edible fruits which the birds love, and then they spread the seeds. Not a good tree to have near the house or driveway because the fruits are messy.

There are nicer trees that are native and will also be useful for wildlife, and usually more so because native trees host native insects.

Once you ID what is growing back there, if you find that most of it is non-native and invasive, I would hire somebody to bring in a bobcat and clear the area all at once if it's a large area. Nothing wrong with clearing by hand, if you want to, and want to save a few bucks, just saying that I wouldn't try to clear by hand so you can take care to save a few young mulberry trees. IF that's the only thing you determine are worth saving. They would probably come back from roots or seeds anyway!

I say this from the perspective of someone who has spent 8 years chopping, clearing, burning etc. SO much work to always have to clear before being able to plant, I fantasize about a huge blank slate to plant!


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Man I can sympathize. I've actually looked into hiring this work out and in my county it requires permits and carries fees. I'm also in what is called the "Critical Area," so I would have to present my case to an environental review board, which I could do and get approval for, but it would take months. I'm pretty sure no one would have a problem with me "sneaking" up there and clearing some of areas and planting a few trees.
Also, the County has an easement to access the land back there for stormwater management, though I don't think they have ever been back there to work on anything since my house was built in 1994.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Wow went to look for this thread and some crazy poster has been posting a lot of spam on this forum!

How much of an area is this? Is it a critical area because of wetlands or aquifer? It might be worth going through the review process if it's a large area, otherwise you could do it a piece at a time. I would think the town would be happy to have people removing invasive plants.

In my town they are pretty conscious of environmental issues and about invasive plants. In historical district, property owners have to petition to do some types of work, or remove trees, and I've heard when they find out somebody wants to remove a Norway maple (which are terribly invasive in the northeast US), they get a rubber stamp approval!

I've heard some local municipalities have been known to use Google earth to see what property owners have been doing near the wetlands.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

The area isn't that big, maybe 30 to 40 feet leading up to the street behind my property, and it is a pretty steep slope. I'm in the Critical Area because there is a very small creek about 1000 ft from my property that is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Any kind of development or removing of plants in the Critical Area is subject to mitigation efforts, fees, etc. It mostly deals with new construction, increasing building footprints, and driveways.

Below are a couple more pictures I took this morning (got a late start to the day). 1 of a tree that is somehow growing right through the Jap Honeysuckle, and one of the thick woody vines that are growing up into the tops of a few trees. If a tree is somehow growing through this stuff, it must be a very vigorous and hard to kill tree, yes? This kind of makes me think that these trees may all be the same, possibly the white mullberry-type tree I posted above. Do they grow to 50-60 feet and through insanely dense vines and in horrible conditions?

thanks again -


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

more vines


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Gosh 1000 feet from the creek and you're in a critical area? I thought it was 100 feet from wetlands dilineation, but then states/municipalities can impose stricter laws if they choose.

Yea, that looks like a viney mess - not sure about those trees, but when they leaf out it should be easy to do an id. I agree that they are probably vigorous species to compete with vigorous vines like honeysuckle and bittersweet.

If it's only 30-40 feet it shouldn't be too hard to do by hand, and I would start clearing some of the known suspects now - such as the Japanese honeysuckle vine. Didn't realize it was a steep slope, which nixes the clear cut idea because you'd probably get some pretty bad erosion.

If you cut the invasives at the base, and paint or squirt the stumps with a little herbicide, this would leave the roots in place, which would help to keep the slope intact. I used to dig stuff out, but got tired of that extra effort, especially the first time I dug out a Buckthorn. They have incredible roots! Over time the roots decay and actually add organic matter to the soil. Not usually a problem to plant in between roots either (all my gardens have had roots, and some big ones too, snaking through them).


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

  • Posted by c2g 6 (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 31, 13 at 15:50

I've never used pesticides, but I'd be grabbing a chainsaw and some roundup for that job and definitely clear every vine out of these. If there's some virginia creeper among that mess, just let it come back up after the initial mass clearing and it will spread in no time - it does for me.

Unless you had an unlimited budget for B&B trees, I would go potted all the way, mix in some fast growers that can be cut down later, and put the rest of my money into flats of landscape plugs. A few flats of prairie grasses would go a long way for cheap and you can enjoy all that space with full sun while your canopy grows over the next few decades.

I would definitely leave any nice native trees that happen to be there, but I'd try to get as much of a blank slate as possible. After that, the possibilities are endless. I did something similar on my property and put a ton of money into b&b trees because I wanted shade right off the bat, but after a few years I've grown to appreciate the possibilities of enjoying a changing landscape - i.e., the chance to have a meadow for years while you have full sun.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

I had a few areas like that, a mixture of muscadine, honeysuckle, jessimine, and smilax. I pulled it all down the best I could and piled it into a big mound, then I started a fire under it. That was the only option other than hiring someone with heavy equipment.

I suppose you MAY be able to rent something like a DR field and brush mower, if there's anywhere in your area that rents stuff like that.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

I bet some of those woody vines up in taller trees are a Vitis species of some kind. That's their trademark.

bertpro could do himself and us a favor for IDing these things sooner: instead of trying to get a shot in the field, clip some chunks of whatever you've got, and bring it indoors and do your photo shoot. Much more amenable to clear closeups - plus you can enjoy an adult beverage while you are at it.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

I'm guessing those dried up sticks in the honeysuckle are pokeweed.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

^^^ Yes those dried stalks look just like the crazed Pokeweed that grows in my back yard. It's just about the only native that competes head to head with the invasive plants back there. I might even have a slightly better handle on the Oriental bittersweet than the Pokeweed at this point, LOL.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

hey guys, been AWOL for a few days but some interesting responses. I didn't think pokeweek died back that much in winter? I have known property owners to plant it and have seen it green and without berries in the winter. In fact I was at a property yesterday where I noticed it growing in a flowerbed. If it is a pokeweed of a weedy variety, should I kill it? It is a desirable plant for a lot of folks around here.

So I have been thinking a lot about what my strategy is going to be and I think I am going to clear some places for trees to go in in the next few weeks. I was walking through the woods near my neighborhood this weekend and I walked into a large grove of white pine and I noticed that for whatever reason, these vines don't grow under them, but do grow in the surrounding areas which are made up mostly of ash, oak, and those white mullberry looking things. I think for this reason I am going to start with some white pines and plan to add to them as I am able to get control of more and more areas. Once I get a handle on how much maintenance this will take and I hopefully get some areas cleared I will add some maples and oaks and other deciduous trees.

Also I've been trying to identify some good undergrowth and my shrub ID book is delayed from Amazon (shouldn't have chosen the free shipping option because I have been waiting for weeks). Anyone got any ideas on some quick growing shrubs. The links below are to the State DNR nursery and order forms. They have some low priced native plants for sale.

http://www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/nursery/
http://www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/treemendous/ordertrees.asp

Anyway, as always, thanks for the input.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

I'd go with one of the "yellow" pines (Loblolly or Shortleaf) over the White Pines, they're stronger wooded in my opinion. If you go with Shortleaf id be interested in buying a few from you since ive been looking for them. ;)

The Red Chokeberry should make a good native shrub thats great for feeding the birds.


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RE: Japanese honeysuckle

Another thought, you may be able to go on Craigslist and find someone with a tractor and bushhog that can cut you some paths through there. I see ads frequently in my area for that type of stuff.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

I've been considering chokeberry and I think I will end up planting some. I was looking at Loblolly Pine, but there is none growing on my side of the Chesapeake, and they like sandy soil, where I have more clay than sandy soil. I figure there has to be a reason there is little to no Loblolly Pine in my area. As for using heavy equipment, the area is sloped pretty steep so it would be tough to use a brush clearer or bobcat, but I have been thinking about how I could make that work.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Loblolly pine grows fine in my clay soil, but it is not native here either. It has come in thanks to man and has naturalized itself.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Back in 2007 and 08, I purchased a bunch of native tree and shrub seedlings from the NH state nursery. The fastest growing shrub by far (of those I purchased) was Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis). Kind of rangey, but vigorous and fast growing shrub, blooms early. It prefers mesic-wet soil. Does not handle drought so well.

Birds love the berries! For the first couple years, I watched a parade of birds eat the berries over a few months into early fall. Then, a couple years ago a Robin claimed my backyard as its domain. Tended to chase the other birds away from the elderberries, and the bird bath. I watched these big clusters of berries sit there and get over ripe, and start falling off. Could not figure out what was going on, until one day I saw a flock of Robins eating the berries off the ground under the biggest Elderberry.

Now I've got Elderberries spread out in the yard, so the Robins can't hog them all. :)


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

Re: pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). This is a perennial, dies back to the roots during winter. Has big honker tuberous roots - very difficult to weed out. Makes purple berries that the birds also love, and they poop out the seeds all over the place! The berries are poisonous, although the young shoots that emerge in the spring are edible.

Having a few pokeweeds in the yard is nice. Having 300 of them, not so nice.


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RE: Japanese Honeysuckle

I think pokeweed is okay in a mature forest where the deep shade from the trees helps keep it under control,but it goes rampant in cutover (disturbed) areas.


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