Bush honeysuckle

Encyclopedia Article

Bush honeysuckle                 Lonicera spp.

Family:   Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle family)

Life cycle:  Woody perennial

Habitat:   Woodlands, especially prevalent near edges.

General description:   Upright shrubs reaching 6 to 15 ft tall with arching branches.  Leaves are egg-shaped, smooth margins and arranged oppositely on stems.  The bark is light tan with distinct stripes.  Pairs of flowers produced in leaf axils; round berries produced in leaf axils.

Key ID traits:  Opposite arranged leaves; grey, striped bark.

Similar species:  Several similar species of bush honeysuckle (Tartarian, Amur, Morrow, etc.) are invasive plants of the eastern United States.  The invasive, exotic species all have hollow stems, whereas the native American honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis) has solid pith on mature stems.

Miscellaneous:  Bush honeysuckles are typically one of the first woody plants to leaf out in the spring and last to lose leaves in the fall, thus they are easily spotted in woodlands during these times.  This behavior allows them to capture full sunlight for a portion of the growing season, providing them a competitive advantage over native species. They were introduced from Asia as ornamentals in mid-1800’s but now are serious problems in much of eastern U.S.

Leaves are oppositely arranged, oval to egg-shaped, and have entire (smooth) leaf margins.  Some species have elongated leaf tips.

stems with gray bark, larger plants have striped stems
Stems with gray bark, larger plants have striped stems

Honeysuckles commonly fill the edges of wooded areas where more sunlight is available, and them move into the interior of the area.