AmeriCorps Member Ashley Stout has been leading volunteers this fall in an effort to remove non-native invasive plants such as bush honeysuckle and autumn olive from Nazareth’s natural areas. Ashley has recruited four new volunteers from local churches and Nazareth events to help her.* Kara Hurst (pictured above) is a Bardstown resident and student at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College studying environmental science. Her first time volunteering with the Office of Ecological Sustainability, she joined Ashley and Carolyn Cromer in removing burning bush from the area around Peter’s Puddle.
Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is a popular horticultural shrub that is becoming increasingly invasive in the eastern United States. It is considered an invasive threat in twenty-one states and is banned from sale or propagation in at least four of those states. Its invasiveness comes primarily from the fruit, a prolific red berry that birds eat and deposit elsewhere. It can also spread vegetatively by resprouting from roots. Burning bush was brought to the U.S. from its native Asia around 1860 as a horticultural plant, and is well-liked for its bright red fall color. However, its increasing invasive nature crowds out native understory plants in forests. While birds will eat the fruit, they provide less nutritional value than native berries, meaning that if migratory song birds fill up on burning bush fruit instead of native fruit, they could find themselves short on the energy and nutrition they need to make their flights.
If you were planning on planting burning bush, please consider planting one of these native alternatives that also offer fall color and showy fruit: Strawberry Bush (Euonymus americanus), also called Heart’s-a-Bursting; Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus); Spice bush (Lindera benzoin); or Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata).
* If you would like to volunteer with Ashley’s Land Care Team, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (502) 348-1573.