The Associated Press
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - A Vigo County park has become a testing ground for foresters trying to control bush honeysuckle, a fast-growing shrub from Japan that is threatening native plants.
Bush honeysuckle leafs out at the first hint of spring warmth, giving them a jump-start on native plants.
Foresters are worried about bush honeysuckle because it quickly displaces native scrubs and understory plants. And in harvested forests, the invasive shrub actually prevents native trees from growing back.
Bush honeysuckle, which grows up to 8 feet tall, was first planted in Indiana in the 1950s to attract birds, with its red berries and flowers. They were also planted for highway beautification and greenways around cities, said Don Rathfon, a forester for Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, based in Dubois County.
Keith Ruble, superintendent of the Vigo County Park and Recreation Department, contacted Purdue University to offer the county's Hawthorn Park as a test site for methods aimed at controlling the shrubs.
Foresters are using 19 treatments to battle the bush honeysuckle. That includes different herbicides and different methods of applying those herbicides.
First applications began in Hawthorn Park in November, Ruble said, with a chemical company donating herbicides for the study.
The experiment is expected to take two to three years before an effective method is found.
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