As is the case with many of Sodalis' visitors, Linsey Laughlin wants to preserve the native plants which grow there.

It is not unusual to encounter visitors to Sodalis Nature Preserve in Hannibal carrying water bottles or devices that allow them to listen to their favorite tunes while walking, jogging or riding a bike. But late Tuesday afternoon a group of approximately 20 people armed with clippers could be seen walking the trails. Their objective wasn’t exercise, but eradication of some of the invasive plants that are growing in the preserve.

Many of the group of clippers were volunteers from US Bank in Hannibal.

“It looks like we have 12 to 13 people (from the bank) out here today. I was expecting about eight so we gained interest,” said Linsey Laughlin, a universal banker at US Bank.

As is the case with many of Sodalis’ visitors, Laughlin wants to preserve the native plants which grow there. She understands what a chore it is to keep invasive plants from taking over, which is why she appreciated the time that was being donated Tuesday by her co-workers.

“I walk this trail every day with my dog, so it means a lot that you would come out here and help me beautify it,” she said. “What we’re working to do is trim back some of the more invasive plants that are coming down so they won’t overgrow and the community will have a nice recreational area.”

Helping the group differentiate between native and invasive plants was Quintin Heaton, a Missouri science teacher at Hannibal High School, who brought along on the trek his sons, Garrett and Rory, and one of his HHS students, John Fritch, who was accompanied by a friend, Owen Farris.

A primary target identified by Heaton was the Bush Honeysuckle, which he noted is intentionally grown by some individuals.

“Bush Honeysuckle is very popular. People know about Bush Honeysuckle,” he said. “Actually it is a plant that looks beautiful and smells great in the springtime. People use it in their yards. It produces a very tasty berry that your pollinators and birds love to eat in the fall.”

While the berries may be tasty, they are not beneficial, according to Heaton.

“It’s not very nutritious so it doesn’t help them put on that winter fat. But they eat it and spread those seeds around and it grows very easily,” he said. “You find it near the edges of woods and when it starts to take over it takes over quickly because it propagates both by seed and rhizomal roots because its roots will pop up new spouts also.”

Its ability to spread quickly is not Bush Honeysuckle’s only negative trait.

“One of the problems with it is that it is one of the first things to leaf out in the springtime, which is going to choke out your native plants and your more nutritious plants that birds and other wildlife need to feed on,” said Heaton. “Because it grows so rapidly it quickly becomes a problem in wooded areas, especially places like this (Sodalis) that have had disruptions in its habitat.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com