Shrub Honeysuckle


Honeysuckle is a deciduousa shrub or tree which sheds its leaves annually shrub that can reach heights up to 6 feet tall. Two species commonly found in the New England area are Tartarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) and Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii). The leaves are simple, oval to oblong in shape, and opposite. Leaves grow in early spring and stay until late November. Mature branches and shaggy barked stems are hollow. Flowering fragrant, tubular flowers between May and June, Tartarian honeysuckle produces pink flowers and Morrow’s honeysuckle produces yellowish white flowers. Berries produce a mature fruit between July and August that is multi-seeded and in pairs. Tartarian honeysuckle berries are reddish, while the Morrow's berries are or-ange.


They often invade woodlands, especially those that are grazed or disturbed. They can also occur along lakeshores, forest edges, abandoned fields, pastures, roadsides, and other open, upland habitats. hese honeysuckles can live under a broad range of light and moisture conditions, as well as in many different plant communities. However, they do not perform as well in shady environments. Large, urban areas are often invaded by honeysuckles. However, rural infestations have occurred where honeysuckles have been introduced to provide wildlife cover and food.

History and Introduction

Invasive exotic honeysuckles are native to Asia and southern Russia. They were introduced into North America as ornamentals in the mid-18th and 19th centuries, due to their showy flowers and fruit. They were also used for wildlife food and cover, and soil erosion control.


Invasive exotic honeysuckles are responsible for crowding and shading out many native trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and spring wildflowers. In addition, they may compete for pollinators, reducing fruit formation and seed set of native species. Invasive exotic honeysuckles may also have a negative impact on wildlife. American robins (Turdus migratorius) nesting in invasive shrub honeysuckles experienced higher predation than those nesting in native species, due to lower nest heights, a lack of protective thorns, and a more conducive branch structure for predator movement. However, these results were specific to a single location and it is not known whether they will be applicable to other sites or bird species. Finally, honeysuckle fruit, while plentiful, may not offer migrating birds the high-fat, nutrient-rich food source they need for long flights.

Dispersal Methods

Invasive exotic honeysuckles can rapidly form dense shrub layers in the forest understory. These honeysuckles produce large numbers of fruit that are highly attractive to birds. In the eastern United States, over twenty species of birds feed on honeysuckle fruit. Thus, birds commonly move honeysuckle seeds across the landscape. Invasive exotic honeysuckle seedlings grow in areas with sparse vegetation, especially under tall trees and shrubs. They also spread vegetatively by producing suckers and sprouts at the base of the plant, especially after severe pruning. 


Control of invasive exotic honeysuckles is best achieved with early identification, and removal of isolated plants before they begin to produce seed. Once established, honeysuckles can shade out existing vegetation and prevent establishment of the native understory. In large infestations of honeysuckle, larger, seed-producing plants should be removed first.

Care needs to be taken in removing all of the root system because new sprouts will grow from parts of the root system left behind. Repeated cutting on honeysuckle species will eventually kill it by reducing the plants reserved nutrients. Do not cut the bush in winter because this will cause aggressive re-sprouting. 

Shrub Honeysuckle Blooming

Shrub Honeysuckle

Scientific Name

Lonicera spp.

Other Nicknames

Sweet breath of spring, Amur Honeysuckle, Morrow's Honeysuckle, Tatarian Honeysuckle, Showy Fly Honeysuckle, Dwarf Honeysuckle, Shrubby Honeysuckle

Native Area

Asia and Southern Russia

Similar Species

Native Shrub Honeysuckles such as Fly-honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), mountain honeysuckle (Lonicera villosa), Bush-honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera). All native honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.) have solid pith.

View Shrub Honeysuckle Flyer (Printable PDF)

Lonicera tartaria

Lonicera tartaria

Lonicera japonica

Lonicera japonica

Shrub Honeysuckle Fruit

Shrub Honeysuckle Fruit

Shrub Honeysuckle

Shrub Honeysuckle

Shrub Honeysuckle Blooming - Andrey Korzun, Wikimedia Commons | Lonicera tartaria - F. D. Richards, Flickr | Lonicera japonica - Dinesh Valke, Wikimedia Commons | Shrub Honeysuckle Fruit - Joshua Mayer, Flickr | Shrub HoneysuckleAndrey Korzun, Wikimedia Commons