Local groups point out common invasive landscaping plants

This week, residents of the area may notice billboards featuring the popular landscaping plants Burning Bush and Callery Pear. Burning Bush, also known as Winged Burning Bush or Euonymus alatus, has been a popular landscape shrub for years, chosen for its brilliant fall foliage. Callery Pear, also known as Bradford Pear or Pyrus calleryana, is a spring favorite with many homeowners because of its showy white flowers. Although both plants are attractive in Indiana, they are considered invasive species and are among the more well-known invasive species such as honeysuckle, fall olive, and multiflora rose.

Burning Bush was introduced to the United States from Asia in the 1860s. However, since the 1970s it has been documented that it spreads from cultivation to invasion of forests, prairies and other natural areas. When the Bradford Pear strain was first advertised in the 1960s, it was considered ideal and was initially sterile. However, since then additional varieties such as Capital, Cleveland Select, and Aristocrat have been planted. These strains have enabled cross-pollination, abundant seed production, and an army of invasive trees spreading out of our landscaping.

Birds easily spread the seeds of both plants from yards to nearby forests and natural areas. There, wild Burning Bush shrubs grow into large and dense thickets, which spread via suckers and new seedlings and ultimately native plants compete for space and light. Burning bush, which can survive in heavily shaded forests, can affect wildlife habitat by replacing native tree, shrub and undergrowth species. Wild callery pear populations are equally poor, overtaking open pastures, roadsides, rows of fences, and forests. A simple spring drive around Jasper or a highway reveals dense patches of this flowering tree in areas that were open 10 years ago.

For this reason, local soil and water protection areas (SWCDs) and invasive species groups are working to raise awareness through 5 billboards this spring. They also encourage homeowners to replace their invasive landscaping with native alternatives like Ninebark, Chokeberry, Redbud, and Serviceberry.

Removing and controlling these invasions in landscapes and forests will help limit their spread and support healthy forests. Small individual plants can be pulled out, but can re-root from stems or roots if left on the ground. Cutting plants will result in sprouts from the stump unless herbicide is also used. For more information on Burning Bush and Callery Pear, including handouts with information on how to control them, please visit www.isacdc.org. Or follow Dubois County’s Invasive Species Awareness Coalition (ISAC) or Daviess-Martin CISMA on Facebook.

Landowners struggling with invasive plants in Daviess, Dubois and Martin counties can also contact Emily Finch, SWCD’s invasive species specialist. Finch can answer questions about invasive species, provide control information, and conduct free site visits to identify invasive species. For more information, contact Finch at Emily.Finch@in.nacdnet.net or 812-482-1171 ext. 3. This project was funded in part by a grant from Dubois County’s REC Operation Round Up community fund.

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