Fighting Japanese Honeysuckle and Wild Grape Vine
The last few days this week were perfect to attack the vines of Japanese Honeysuckle and wild grape. That is, temperatures were in the low 40s and the sun was bright so it was comfortable to be outside. Any time when you have those conditions during the winter is an opportune time to address these invasive plants. The only tools you need are a good pair of hand clippers and a good set of work gloves.
First of all, let me concede that wild grape vine is not an invasive but when I’m working in areas that are undergoing forest regeneration, I want to give maximum opportunity for young trees to reach maturity and therefore focus on removing both of these vines from young trees. Japanese Honeysuckle is particularly insidious because it will wrap itself around the trunk of a tree and given enough time will eventually strangle the tree, killing it. Please note, I do not use any herbicide in this process. The process, however, will no doubt require multiple year interventions, but with each succeeding year, the problem diminishes to the point that once the trees achieve sufficient height and density, Japanese Honeysuckle ceases to be an issue. It may still be present on the forest floor but the lack of sunlight prevents it from sending out its vines during the growing season.
The process then is simply to cut the vines at the base of the tree and then remove the vine growth from the tree itself. This may involve some pulling and tugging to remove as much of the vine matter as possible but it’s not a problem if some vines remain on the tree. They’ll eventually decay and drop off. In areas that have been left untouched for a number of years (I’m currently working an area that was last mowed twelve years ago) there is the potential for lots of young trees to be emerging. While I had removed bush honeysuckle and autumn olive from this area previously, I had not tackled the vines so there were areas with a dense thick mat of vines that had to be removed. I feel it is important to remove vine vegetation as low as possible to the ground and to clear out areas that have a dense mat of vines. I also cut back blackberry canes because in many instances the canes can become quite tall and serve as conduits for vining Honeysuckle to reach into trees. In areas where I have cleaned out the vine mats and undergrowth, I’m always impressed at how “open” the forest becomes. I also can’t help but think that the trees that I’ve “freed up” are quietly giving “sighs” of appreciation (an aspect of their “hidden life”).
– Stan Sells