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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Autum Olive- Beautiful and Terrible

autumn olive

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!
autumn olive

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.
autumn olive

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!


RNSANE said...

Very interesting, Shark...there are other plants that do take over...like the kudzu in the South! Good grief, it totally covers trees all along the interstate like some creeping ghost.

Secondary Roads said...

Thanks for this post. I thought that's what I have growing on my place, but it's not. I have something that is a tree and not a bush--or do they grow into trees?

Mandy said...

Oooh, I am a big believer in planting indigenous plants only for this exact reason! I drive The Husband crzy when we go plat shopping when I insist on buying local plants only.

The Oceanside Animals said...

I remember when they were trying to stop the purple loosestrife in New York. Pretty, but highly invasive, and useless to local wildlife.

Ann said...

I'll keep this in mind if I ever come across it and think I want to plant it in my yard.

Sharkbytes said...

Carmen- that kudzu is amazing. I am calling Japanese Knotweed the kudzu of the north. It's not that bad yet, but it sure could be.

Chuck- They do grow into trees, but it seems unlikely that you'd not have small plants too. How about the overpowering blooms? Post a pic, buddy, and let's figure it out.

Emm- Good for you! Maybe I'll cover some more invasives.

Dennis- Yes, it's a bad one. I actually helped with the first release of the beetle that can eat it, in Michigan. Are you saying that NY got it under control?

Ann- Thanks! Of course, it may behave differently in different areas of the country.

Rick (Ratty) said...

It's a shame such a nice looking plant is so uncontrolled. There's been a big push to get rid of non-native plants around here.

Sharkbytes said...

Ratty- Yes, SE MI is a hotbed of alien removal and native planting. I was even a part of it all for a few years. It would take an army to control this plant here... similarly, I doubt it's possible to rid SE MI of the buckthorn.

Glynis Peters said...

I will stick to the real Olive tree, yours sounds like hard work Joan.

Sharkbytes said...

Now, an olive tree that delivered real olives each year would be great! But I suspect it wouldn't like winter here.