Have you seen the green along the Fort Wayne’s riverfront? It may look beautiful and be a sign of spring, but it’s something volunteers and the Parks and Recreation Department are trying to eliminate.
Asian Bush Honeysuckle is pretty much the only green you can see at this point along the riverfront.
“It was brought in the 40’s and 50’s as a landscaping plant, but it has taken over,” says Dan Wire, Riverfront Riparian Management Supervisor.
The invasive species is one of the first plants to get leaves in the spring, and one of the very last to lose leaves in the fall, putting a canopy over the soil before anything else can grow.
“It limits the natural variety of vegetation for wildlife to feed on, and for us to look at as beauty along the rivers,” explains Dan.
Honeysuckle gets tall with thick trunks, making it hard to see and enjoy the views from the waterways.
“The trunks will have a vertical striped pattern from top to bottom, then you know you’ve got Honeysuckle.”
That indicator helps volunteers when they remove the invasive species from the waterfronts.
Over 20 tons of honeysuckle have been removed the past couple of years. This past weekend, volunteers removed about 5 tons from Headwaters Park.
“We’ve not had a keen maintenance program on the rivers for decades, and what we’re doing now is playing catchup for ignoring rivers for so long. But we’re making headway, and we’re making positive strides.”
Volunteers will have to keep that up as honeysuckle is not easy to eliminate.
“It produces a lot of seeds, and the seeds are viable for 2-3 years.”
The good news is when properly treated, the success rate for keeping honeysuckle away is about 80-90 percent.