The Asian Honeysuckle Bush Family as a Deserving Scapegoat
Posted on March 20, 2020
Truly, it’s a pretty low blow to label Covid-19 “the Chinese Virus.” We love iPhones made in China, but we don’t call them “Chinese Phones.” All countries have desirable and despicable exports. The U.K.’s desirable export: the Beatles and regrettable: haggis. The USA’s desirable export: KitchenAid appliances and regrettable (kind of): porn. Ok, maybe this isn’t making you feel any better, and you’re still holding a grudge against China. You’ve been holed up in your house for days, and it looks like it’s going to be months. Your college kids can’t really use Tinder when everyone’s a potential cootie. Watching your muscles atrophy after a week of being locked out of your favorite gym, you’re feeling more out of sorts by the hour.
This is where the Asian honeysuckle bush family comes in. Finally — a socially acceptable scapegoat for those who require one. Even if you’re completely sympathetic and loving of China (remember how you love dim sum?), this export of theirs is fair game for diffusing frustration and ridding you of excess calories ingested while Hulu-bingeing. While you haven’t been paying attention, this aggressive group of bushes, imported from Asian countries in the late 19th century, has been wreaking havoc in American forests. When you go for a hike in the Eastern U.S. exalting in the sylvan wonderland, it’s likely that most of the understory that you’re admiring is composed of these junk species. According to the Ohio Division of Forestry, Asian honeysuckle bushes have displaced untold numbers of native bushes and trees as well as offered birds a tempting high-carb food far inferior to the fruits of native plants. When birds migrate, they require high-fat food from plants that they evolved with in this part of the world, not the equivalent of jelly beans.
Birds spread the seeds from these honeysuckle fruits, so the Covid conditions are ideal for a large scale eradication effort from millions of people practicing social distancing this spring and summer. Now that you’ve been barred from bars, restaurants, massage parlors, nail and hair salons, schools, work, Apple stores, discos, cinemas, and parties, why not lead your nuclear family into the bushes with picks, saws, loppers, and spades, digging and hatcheting your way through all the honeysuckle on your land?
The small plants have shallow, horizontal roots, perfect for hurtling out of the earth. Large specimens will require a reciprocating saw, but believe me, it’s fun to chop off their limbs. Think of the abs you’ll have, the hearty appetite for flapjacks, the April air filling your lungs! And next spring, when Covid-19 is a receding memory, forests and suburbs and bikepaths and woodlots along roads will prove that they too are resilient. Native redbuds, paw-paws, dogwoods, buckeyes, viburnums, skunk cabbages, and mayapples will have already started to claim the new territory as their own. They’ll stun us with their comeback as long as we give them a fighting chance.