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Tuesday, May 18, 2010
At this time of year there are a couple of terrible invasive plants in full bloom. The one I'm showing today is Autumn Olive, native to Eurasia. It was planted in many areas of the United States as a windbreak. Here in the sandy soil of west Michigan it has been wildly successful. It can fix nitrogen (use it from the air) the way legumes can. This means that it can grow easily in poor soil. We have lots of that!
The flowers cover the entire bush, and the smell is so sweet it is overpowering all through my field this week. It's cloying and honey-ish. These flowers become small berries which birds love, and thus they spread the plant even more. The worst of it is that the berries have low nutritional value for our birds.
Yes, it's a beautiful bush, but terrible. It will kill any other plants around it. All the ground beneath the large shrubs becomes barren. If you cut it down it will sprout 5 new stalks for every one. The only thing you can do is cut it off then immediately spray the stump with Roundup. I've done a lot of that near the house, but it would be a huge job to clear the field. It also has thorns which irritate when they prick leaving a welt for several days. I don't like gloves, but I always wear them when clearing this nasty baby.
Don't plant Autumn Olive!