I understand that it is welcome to see something green in the woods after winter — especially after the winter we just had — but just keep in mind that the welcome glint of green you see spells trouble for our native trees shrubs and wildflowers.
That green you see is honeysuckle. Soon to be followed by buckthorn.
The honeysuckle is about 10 days late this year. I can usually count on it starting to "leaf out" by April 12th, but it waited until Earth Day (April 22) this spring.
It might be late this year, but so is everything else, so the same damage will be done.
"Honey" and her good friend "Buck" are like the Bonnie and Clyde of the local oak woods. They are out of control and leaving destruction in their wake. The equivalent of law enforcement — restoration workers armed with chainsaws and herbicide instead of guns — work night and day tracking them and trying to eliminate them from the local woods. But they just keep popping up some place new.
The duo have killed many innocent by-standers — oaks, hickories, native shrubs, wildflowers — who happened to be "in the way." Oh, they didn't intend to kill anyone, but still, others have died because of them.
And, continuing the parallels, Honey and Buck have their supporters who abet them in their murderous spree:
- Some think they are too "pretty" to be bad.
- Others feel they provide a valuable service by forming a dense thicket that keeps people from seeing and moving through the woods.
- A few help them more directly by nurturing them along their journey (these would be the people who actually treat their buckthorn and honeysuckle as welcome parts of their landscape!)
The truth is, they are murderous villains, not folk heroes. Left unchecked, they will destroy the remaining oak woods, wipe out the woodland wildflowers like trillium and wild geranium.
They must be stopped.
Lisa Haderlein is a blogger for Shaw Media. Lisa is the Executive Director for The Land Conservancy of McHenry County. Visit The Land Conservancy of McHenry County's website to learn more.