Sunday, April 15, 2012

# 247 - A Pest? Japanese Honeysuckle?

Honeysuckle grows wild throughout our acreage. Taking a walk is delightful because the sweet aroma of Honeysuckle vines is the predominant scent. I say outloud, "Dear God, I bet Heaven has smells like this...I bet there is a Honeysuckle Road up in Heaven, just off Gardenia Street."

Regardless, there is another side to this honeysuckle vine goodness as it continues growing, right now, across our acreage. In 2005, Texas Forestry released an issue with an article about this kind of honeysuckle that is growing on our land. This particular kind of honeysuckle is called "Japanese Honeysuckle" and is easily recognizable.

When my children were little, they quickly learned to suck the honeysuckle nectar from the flower. That's an awesome delicious treat that Heather and Stefanie would work nonstop to find and harvest for themselves. They taught a few of their friends to hunt for honeysuckle goodness and to this day, my girls and I will go up to a honeysuckle vine to pull off the flowers to enjoy that sweet bit of nature. It seems to be a treat sent directly to us from the Good Lord.

The current problem with Japanese Honeysuckle is, although the vine is beautiful, fragrant and sought out by many for the nectar, it is becoming known for being a noxious weed that is killing shrubs and young trees...making a definite change to forest landscapes. It is now considered a mostly evergreen "invasive plant" with too few enemies to keep its growth in balance.

Yes, I am shocked, my beloved honeysuckle vines have made the list of "pests" in Texas because they are too strong, fast-growing and adaptive, so they are only to be welcomed with great care and boundaries.

I admit...just being in the midst of all this honeysuckle makes me feel so happy and content. It's these little things, such as the high level of fragrance of a Japanese Honeysuckle on our land that make this place so wonderful. Wild Honeysuckle is definitely a big bonus, unless it is murdering your other plants before they even get a chance to make their way in the world. An unruly Japanese Honeysuckle can even cause a tree to grow malformed...the vine keeps the tree from getting water. It's a brutal example of, "Survival of the Fittest."

Almost everywhere I look on our land, there's more honeysuckle. However, we also have towering, established trees, so the vines aren't capable of doing that much damage. Actually, for our land, the honeysuckle vines might be helping to keep new growth to a minimum. Good for us.

As for the nectar of a honeysuckle, if you've never harvest a little for yourself...don't let another opportunity pass you by. Do it. You'll be glad you did and you'll always remember the flavor as being divine.

The old picnic table in the below picture has been around for several decades. On the day I took these pictures, recently, I would have loved to have had my daughters there with us. I'm sure Heather and Stefie would have been running around collecting honeysuckle nectar so that we could sit down and enjoy the sweet treat together.

From this picnic table, your nose is filled with the smell of honeysuckle. It is the primary smell of our forest at this time of year. It sure makes me long for the days when we will be living on our land in permanent residency and no longer be living on the industrial side of Houston which means you are forced to smell the chemical plant releases. I'll take the honeysuckle option any day of the week!

Regardless, the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has shown that most of East Texas is prone to growing Japanese Honeysuckle in the wild. Along with other areas that are becoming inundated by this plant, our area is definitely on the list for Japanese Honeysuckle being out of control.

I understand the damage that this vine can do to other plants, it seems unfair that such beauty and enjoyable sweetness can be so strangling to other plant sources critical to the forest. So, dicky-darn-darn, that means I will have to employ good old-fashioned hand-pulling gardening tactics to keep this vine from choking other vital plants that are trying to grow in certain areas of our land. In other zones, we'll let the Japanese Honeysuckle waft in the breeze and do its thing while daring the next person to call it a "weed."

To me, it'll continue to be a slice of Heaven that simply needs a bit of attention.


Mike said...

I remember tasting honeysuckle as a kid and enjoying its sweet aroma. I haven't seen any in quite the while. Also, as a youngster, I remember picking morning glories and eating them. ;)

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I also love honeysuckle for the same reasons as you. However, like you, I've also noticed how it takes over everything. This year we are seeing it totally consume our blackberry patch--We too are going to have to do some pulling, just to keep things in balance, and because I LOVE our blackberries!!

I hope you're doing well, and your week is off to a good start! :-)

Rina ... also Chester or Daisysmum. said...

Maybe you could use it to your advantage, looking keeping a few hives of bees for honey. Maybe let Deputy Dave handle the bees.

Sometimes our garden plants get taken to rural areas and planted there. I am guilty of planting white arumlillies near our creek, and just love the clumps of white flowers, don't see what harm they would cause. Same with agaphantus, just love them but now they classified as weeds?? I don't get it. Nice to catch up with you