UNION, Ky. — The University of Kentucky Boone County Extension Office is working with volunteers attempting to minimize the spread of the invasive species.

What You Need To Know

  • According to Team Kentucky Energy and Environment cabinet bush honeysuckle rapidly invade and overtakes land and affects how other plants can grow

  • Honeysuckle has little nutritional value affecting the survival of the animals that eat the plant

  • Boone County Extension Office host a volunteer event to clear out honeysuckle twice a year

  • Volunteering with the office can fulfill the Master Gardner certification volunteer hours requirement

Cut it, pull it, toss it, then mark it. This is the method used to halt the growth and spread of honeysuckle.

Lacey Kessel, a natural resource and environment agent for the University of Kentucky in Boone County extension office, has spent the last four years of her life working closely with volunteers to prevent the spread of honeysuckle in Northern Kentucky. But at one point, like many,she too had a sweet spot for the plant.

She said, “When I was a kid, I used to eat the nectar out of the flowers like a lot of people I know. And so, honeysuckle actually is very…and, you know, it’s a heart plant for a lot of people. But for a force health perspective, it’s just bad. It’s just a bad plant, like most of our invasives.”

She explained why honeysuckle is bad for the environment.

“Honeysuckle is an invasive plant that has kind of taken over a lot of our understory forest areas, especially along forest edges, where there’s more sunlight. And what happens is they outcompete our native shrubs and understory growth like new generated trees and new just new growth in general that we would normally have,” said Kessel.

Kessel said to not be in fear, as there’s many ways to stop the plant from spreading.

“There are several ways that you can start to remove it from your forest or your yard or whatever,” she said. “Today we’re doing the cut step method, which allows us to cut the honeysuckle shrubs out. And then I go through behind them and use an herbicide on the stumps which helps kill it off.”

Like Kessel, her volunteers are just as passionate about stopping the spread. 3-year volunteer, Kevin Phillips says he helps so the trees can grow, and wildlife can thrive.

“The saplings cannot make it back up through the honeysuckle. So, this would be acres and acres and acres of nothing but honeysuckle, which provides almost no food for any of the wildlife,” Phillips said.

Like Phillips, experts say that the plant not only affects the way in which other plants around it can grow but even affects the birds that can eat them. As the berries that grow from the plant have no nutritional value, which affects how the birds can survive in the wilderness.

Kessel said if you notice honeysuckle growing in your backyard, call your local extension office.

“If it’s a concern for you, contact your local extension office, they can help you with different ways to remove it based on what your needs are and the amount that you’re trying to deal with,” Kessel said.

Kessel said they are always in search of volunteers ready to tackle the honeysuckle. To find out more information, visit the Boone County extension website.