Eastern Forest Threat Center - Japanese Honeysuckle

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Japanese honeysuckle with flowers

Japanese honeysuckle with flowers

James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Japanese Honeysuckle
Lonicera japonica

Japanese honeysuckle is native to Japan and Korea. It was introduced into the U.S. in the early to mid-1800s and has been planted for use as an ornamental, erosion control, and a wildlife food source.

Keywords: Caprifoliaceae, semi-evergreen, evergreen, perennial, woody vine, arbors, fragrant flowers, glossy black fruits, root competition, girdling, shading

Distribution Map Distribution Source Image

Threat Description

Japanese honeysuckle is a semi-evergreen to evergreen woody perennial vine. It climbs and trails to 80 ft. long, branching and often forming arbors in forest canopies. Short-stalked leaves are opposite, oblong to oval, sometimes lobed, and occur in pairs along the stem. Leaves and stems are sometimes covered with fine hairs. Fragrant flowers appearing from April to August are tubular with 5 fused petals, white to pink, turning yellow with age, and occur in pairs along the stem at leaf junctures. Small glossy fruits, nearly spherical and green ripening to black, are produced in autumn. Each contains 2-3 seeds. Japanese honeysuckle reproduces both by seed and vegetatively. It is shade tolerant and thrives in a wide variety of habitats including fields, forests, wetlands, barrens, and all types of disturbed lands. Vigorous root competition helps it spread and displace neighboring native vegetation. Shrubs and young trees can be killed by girdling when Japanese honeysuckle vines twist tightly around stems and trunks, cutting off the flow of water through the plant. Dense growths of honeysuckle covering vegetation can gradually kill plants by preventing sunlight from reaching leaves.