Kill that Honeysuckle!


Blue Heron cul-de-sac


Blue Heron cul-de-sac 2016 BEFORE

Blue Heron cul-de-sac 2017 AFTER

In 2016, Rod Sharka, a member of WHIP (Wisconsin Headwaters Invasive Partnership) helped us do a driving survey of Natural Lakes (NL) to assess our terrestrial (land-based) invasive species. Eurasian honeysuckle was the most prevalent species and widely found throughout the preserve along our roadways, landings, and lake shore.

You may have honeysuckle on your property. The NLOAA board would like you to be able to identify honeysuckle, and understand how you can treat the plants on your property. The Invasive Species Committee has committed to manage invasive species in our preserve and can assist with training and identifying plants on your property.

Why should we care? Invasive honeysuckle:

  • Provides ideal environment for ticks - see UW Madison article in another blog entry.

  • Will continue to grow and spread to new areas unless controlled.

  • Crowds out native species and changes the ecosystem - first plant to leaf out in spring, last to lose leaves in fall. Nothing grows underneath the bushes.

  • Potentially reduces property values (although no specific data to support this) - brush becomes so dense it limits access and visibility.

How to identify Eurasian Honeysuckle (see pictures):

  • Small oval opposing leaves

  • Rough irregular bark

  • Messy bush structure

  • Broken branch has distinct dark brown core

honeysuckle - oval opposing leaves










honeysuckle - brown core

honeysuckle - rough bark, messy, dense

There is a native variety of honeysuckle. The bushes may appear the same, but they have smooth bark and do not have the dark brown core. The native variety is not invasive and you usually only find single bushes by themselves.

Where do you find Honeysuckle? It often starts in open areas with good sunlight. Natural Lakes locations include roadsides, landings, lakeshore, and utility right of ways.

How does it spread? Honeysuckle has red berries that attract birds. The primary means of spread are by birds who eat the berries and spread seeds through their waste. The secondary means of spread is natural growth. Bushes can become 6-10’ tall and wide. Just trimming or cutting bushes only encourage spread.

How do you get rid of it?

The best time to kill honeysuckle is after Labor Day. In the fall trees and shrubs focus growth into their roots. Chemical treatment on stumps will draw chemical into the roots and will have best success at killing the plant without affecting surrounding vegetation. In dense areas, start on the edges and work toward the center. In low concentrations or small plants and bushes, kill all that you see so it doesn’t spread.


Cut bushes at the base, leaving a small number of exposed stumps. Treat the freshly cut stump with full strength Rodeo or RoundUp glyphosate (invasive committee will provide chemicals for free). Cover the complete cut surface. Be extremely careful when handling chemicals. Wear gloves and protective clothing and clean up thoroughly afterwards. Invasive Committee members can train you and provide the chemicals for treatment. NL obtained the applicator bottles and chemicals through a DNR grant, we are using Rodeo brand glyphosate because it is safer to use near wet areas, RoundUp brand can be harmful near wet areas.


If the honeysuckle is small, less than a quarter inch diameter, you may be able to pull it. It will be easiest to pull after a rain. Try to get the complete root. It is also possible to pull larger bushes out using a tow rope wrapped around the base and pulled by truck. Again, try to get the complete bush.


2018 Grant Activities Natural Lakes was awarded a two year Weed Management Grant July 2017. In summer 2018, NL volunteers walked with Rosie Page and surveyed the roadsides within NL. All instances of invasives were marked with a GPS to track management efforts. Please review survey findings to learn about other species and other management activities.


2019 Grant Activities with Honeysuckle As stated earlier, honeysuckle bush pulling and treating starts late in the summer. Earlier this summer we will survey the areas treated in 2017 and 2018 to check past treatment patches. We will update our maps and records noting areas that have been successfully cleared and what areas need follow-up treatment in the fall.


One area we have not fully mapped is our lakeshore. In the spring it will be easy to see honeysuckle from the lakes because it has pretty yellow flowers. The invasives committee will be looking for volunteers to help document the lakeshore plants. We will then contact homeowners to educate them and hopefully gain buy in to treat the plants in the fall.


During September and October we will start work crews to begin working on honeysuckle. WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS TO HELP in our work crews as we start work on the roadways and landings. Based on the amount of honeysuckle we have, this will be a multi-year effort.


If you can help, please contact Ann Mawicke at 715 385-2221. We will update the website, post work days on the calendar, and send out some broadcast emails. We will also plan a day near the end of October where we will rent a chipper to chip all the brush. If you remove honeysuckle on your property, pile it at the road near your property, contact Ann Mawicke at 715 385-2221 and we will plan to chip it for you. We will only chip honeysuckle, we will not have time to chip other brush. If you have a large amount of honeysuckle on your property, please let the committee know. We might be able to work with you to get rid of it. At least we would like to track the problem areas so we continue efforts to manage it.

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