Archived Opinion

Burning bush has a high price

Burning bush has a high price

To the Editor:

A recent letter gave some very good advice: get outside and enjoy the outdoors. Nature has so much to offer when you experience it first-hand, up close and personal.

I commend her for taking the time to submit the letter, but would like to recommend one action that she might disagree with: get rid of all burning bush (euonymus). It is a non-native invasive and is very detrimental to the environment. It is now banned in some states, but unfortunately is still for sale in North Carolina. Yes, it is beautiful, but like many decorative plants that can be purchased locally, it comes with a high environmental price.

What is the problem? It tends to colonize. It takes over areas to the detriment of native plants. Since it is not a native plant, it does not fit into the ecosystem by providing food for animals, including insects. Nothing eats it because animals don’t recognize it as food. Every year it produces a large crop of beautiful berries, which then go on to produce lots more burning bush. This is not so much of a problem in urban areas where yards are mowed. The bushes don’t get much of a chance to spread, but on a wooded lot where neighbors have burning bush, it requires constant effort to remove the seedlings.  

They spread, not only by seed, but also by roots. I have pulled seedlings by the hundreds, along with Bradford pear and other beautiful ornamentals that people have planted, totally unaware of the problems they cause. It took a while for the message to get out that Bradford pear was a problem, but they are no being planted as ornamentals and you seldom see one, except in the wild where they have escaped. I hope the message about burning bush will soon be as widespread and people will begin to remove them.

If you have time to watch a 15-minute video, this one shows exactly what the problems with burning bush are:  The end of the video explains why they are still for sale.

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If you truly love nature, do us all a favor and plant only native ornamentals. They are beautiful, hardy and plentiful. The local Extension Service and their Master Gardeners can help you choose the ones that will meet your needs.

Joanne Strop


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