At this point in the winter, most of the green you see when looking around in the forest is from our native ferns, conifers, and mosses. However, if you take a closer look at the understory, you may see some green that doesn’t come from one of our native species. This time of year is great for picking out several invasive species that remain semi-green throughout part of the winter. These invasives often leaf out sooner and retain their leaves for longer than the native species that also occupy our forests’ understory. The green leaves pictured above are from Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), a prevalent invasive species.

Bush honeysuckles, burning bush, English ivy, Chinese privet, and Japanese barberry are just a few of the other invasive species whose leaves you could encounter during a winter stroll through a local forest or park. While the leaves of burning bush may be bright red instead of green and other invasives may lose their leaves at some point during the winter, this can still be a helpful invasive scouting technique! Winter is a great time to do invasive removal for this reason.

If you see something blooming, leafing out, ripening, or otherwise changing in your woods, send us photos ( to include in next month’s Forests for the Bay newsletter for more phenological fun!