Photographer: Leslie J. Mehrhoff Affiliation: The University of Connecticut Source: Bugwood.org Copyright: CC BY 3.0 US
A tardily deciduous, upright, arching-branched shrub up to 30 feet (9 m) in height and is spindly in forests. Much branched and arching in openings, multiple stemmed, dark-green opposite leaves, showy white to pink or yellow flowers, and abundant orange to red berries.
Exotic bush honeysuckles can rapidly invade and overtake a site, forming a dense shrub layer that crowds and shades out native plant species. They alter habitats by decreasing light availability, by depleting soil moisture and nutrients, and possibly by releasing toxic chemicals that prevent other plant species from growing in the vicinity. Exotic bush honeysuckles may compete with native bush honeysuckles for pollinators, resulting in reduced seed set for native species. In addition, the fruits of exotic bush honeysuckles, while abundant and rich in carbohydrates, do not offer migrating birds the high-fat, nutrient-rich food sources needed for long flights, that are supplied by native plant species.
Open-grown exotic bush honeysuckles fruit prolifically and are highly attractive to birds. In the eastern United States, over twenty species of birds feed on the persistent fruits and widely disseminate seeds across the landscape. In established populations, vegetative sprouting also aids in the persistence of these exotic shrubs.
Introduced from Asia in the 1700s and 1800s. It is mistakenly used as ornamentals and wildlife plants. Exotic bush honeysuckles have been introduced for use as ornamentals, for wildlife cover and for soil erosion control.
Asia: Manchuria, Korea.
Amur Honeysuckle can grow in a wide range of soil types. It tolerates wet soils for brief periods of time, such as at the edge of streams and creek banks that occasionally overflow. It can grow in full sun or full shade and can be found in fencerows, thickets, woodlands, roadsides, pastures, old fields, neglected areas and lawns. It is tolerate of all types of pollution, and thrives on neglect, tolerating severe summer droughts and cold winter temperatures with minimal dieback. It readily grows in zones 3 to 8.
U.S. Present: AL, AR, CT, DE, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, OH, OR, NB, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, WV
To see a county distribution map provided by EDDMApS click here.
The flowers of Amur honeysuckle resemble the invasive Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) and the native trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) because they are all in the Lonicera genus.
Alternatives: Many native plants make excellent substitutes for exotic bush honeysuckles for home landscaping and wildlife planting. In the eastern U.S., examples include spicebush (Lindera benzoin), ink-berry (Ilex glabra), gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa), trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), and native wisteria (Wisteria frutescens). These species are readily available through commercial nurseries.
Mechanical and chemical methods are the primary means of control of exotic bush honeysuckles. No biological control agents are currently available for these plants and any potential agents that might be considered would have to be specific to the exotic species, for obvious reasons. Hand removal of seedlings or small plants may be useful for light infestations, but care should be taken not to disturb the soil any more than necessary. In shaded forest habitats, where exotic bush honeysuckles tend to be less resilient, repeated clippings to ground level, during the growing season, may result in high mortality. Clipping must be repeated at least once yearly because bush honeysuckles that are cut once and left to grow will often form stands that are more dense and productive than they were prior to cutting.
Seedlings of exotic bush honeysuckles can also be controlled by application of a systemic herbicide, like glyphosate (e.g., Roundup?), at a 1 percent solution, sprayed onto the foliage or applied by sponge. Well established stands of exotic bush honeysuckles are probably best managed by cutting the stems to ground level and painting or spraying the stumps with a slightly higher rate of glyphosate (2-3%).
Prescribed burning has shown some promise for exotic bush honeysuckles growing in open habitats. In all instances, control should be initiated prior to the seed dispersal period (late summer to early autumn) to minimize reinvasion of treated habitats.
USE PESTICIDES WISELY: Always read the entire pesticide label carefully, follow all mixing and application instructions and wear all recommended personal protective gear and clothing.
Contributions from Texas Invasives for this species page are greatly appreciated.
Bailey, L.H. and E.Z. Bailey. 1977. Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada, MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York.
Luken, J.O. 1990. Forest and pasture communities respond differently to cutting of exotic Amur honeysuckle. Restoration and Management Notes 8:122-123.
Nyboer, R. 1992. Vegetation management guideline: bush honeysuckles. Natural Areas Journal 12:218-219.
The Nature Conservancy. Bush Honeysuckles: Element Stewardship Abstract. In: Wildland Weeds Management & Research Program, Weeds on the Web.
Rehder, Alfred. 1967. Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs: Hardy in North America, The MacMillan Co., New York.
U.S. Forest Service (Lead Author); Sidney Draggan (Topic Editor) "Amur Honeysuckle". In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). [First published in the Encyclopedia of Earth October 7, 2010; Last revised Date October 7, 2010]
Williams, C.E. 1994. Bush honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.). Fact sheet - invasive alien plant species of Virginia. Virginia Native Plant Society and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Richmond, VA.
APWG WEED US