Local groups spread word about common invasive landscaping plants
This week area residents might notice billboards going up featuring the popular landscaping plants Burning Bush and Callery Pear. Burning Bush, also called Winged Burning Bush or Euonymus alatus has been a go-to landscaping shrub for years, selected for its brilliant fall foliage. Callery Pear, also called Bradford Pear or Pyrus calleryana, is a spring favorite of many homeowners for its showy white flowers. However, while attractive both plants are considered invasive species in Indiana, joining the ranks of more well-known invasives like Honeysuckle, Autumn Olive, and Multiflora Rose.
Burning Bush was introduced to the US from Asia in the 1860s, but since the 1970s has been documented spreading from cultivation to invade woodlands, prairies, and other natural areas. Likewise, when the Bradford Pear cultivar was first promoted in the 1960s, it was thought to be ideal, and was initially sterile. However, since then additional cultivars such as Capital, Cleveland Select, and Aristocrat have been planted. These cultivars have allowed cross pollination, abundant seed production, and an army of invasive trees spreading from 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, spreading via root suckers and new seedlings, eventually outcompeting native plants for space and light. Able to survive even in heavily shaded woodlands, overtime Burning Bush can degrade wildlife habitat as it replaces native tree, shrub, and understory species. Wild Callery Pear populations are just as bad, overtaking open pastures, roadsides, fence rows, and forests. A simple spring drive around Jasper or any interstate highway reveals dense patches of this flowering tree in areas that were open just 10 years ago.
That is why this spring local Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and invasive species groups are working to raise awareness through 5 area billboards. They also encourage homeowners to replace their invasive landscaping with native alternatives, such as Ninebark, Chokeberry, Redbud, and Serviceberry.
Removing and controlling these invasives in landscapes and woods will help to limit their spread and support healthy forests. Small individual plants can be pulled out, but may re-root from stems or roots if left lying on the ground. Cutting plants will result in resprouts from the stump unless herbicide is also applied. For more information on Burning Bush and Callery Pear, including handouts with information on controlling them, visit www.isacdc.org. Or follow the Invasive Species Awareness Coalition (ISAC) of Dubois County or the Daviess-Martin CISMA on Facebook.