Japanese Honeysuckle

Lonicera japonica
Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckles)

A climbing or sprawling, semi-evergreen vine that often retains its leaves into winter.

Leaves opposite, simple, ovate, 1 1/2 to 3 1/4 inches long. Leaves produced in spring often highly lobed; those produced in summer unlobed. None of the leaves are joined at the base.

Stems flexible, hairy, pale reddish-brown, shredding to reveal straw-colored bark beneath. Woody stems with yellowish-brown bark, shredding in long papery strips.

Flowers May–June, in pairs in the leaf axils. Flowers white or pink and turning yellow with age, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long, tubular with two lips: upper lip with 4 lobes, lower lip with 1 lobe.

Fruits September–October. Berries black, glossy, smooth, pulpy, round, about 1/4 inch long, with 2-3 seeds. Berries single or paired on stalks from leaf axils.

Spread: to 20 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Escaped from cultivation into thickets, fencerows, openings and borders of woods, rocky slopes, ditches and along roads. The runners are most prolific in open sun and will root where they touch the soil, forming mats of new plants. Flowering and seed development are heaviest in sunny areas. This vine readily invades open natural communities, often by seed spread by birds. Colonies of Japanese honeysuckle persisting at old homesites provide a seed source for spread into the nearby land.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide sporadically; most abundant in the southeastern counties.
Invasive. Native to Japan, introduced to the U.S. in 1806 as an ornamental. By the early 1900s, it was widely established over the eastern U.S. It climbs and drapes over native vegetation, shading it out. It is capable of completely covering herbaceous and understory plants and climbs trees to reach the canopy, and may alter understory bird populations. It can become established in forested areas in openings created by treefalls or by natural features that allow more light into the understory.
Human connections: 
Although this plant has fragrant, showy flowers and can quickly cover unsightly areas, it is an aggressive, non-native invasive plant that is difficult to control. It climbs over and shades out native vegetation. Plant the more interesting, native yellow honeysuckle instead!
Ecosystem connections: 
Although hummingbirds frequent the flowers, and the vines and berries offer some cover and food for wildlife, this aggressive vine is not to be encouraged. It alters or destroys the native vegetation beneath it, diminishing the populations of birds and other animals that rely on the native plants.
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