Invasive Plants

Japanese Honesuckle (Lonicera japonica)

Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is an evergreen woody vine that can reach 80 feet high and a thickness of 2 inches in diameter. It is planted for its fragrant, white or pale-yellow tubular flowers that appear April to August. Spherical, black glossy berries mature later in the summer. Japanese honeysuckle is native to East Asia, including Japan and Korea. It was introduced to the United States in 1806 on Long Island, NY, as an ornamental plant, for erosion control and for wildlife forage and cover. Now it occurs throughout the eastern half of the United States in an area encompassing 26 states.

Like many introduced species, Japanese honeysuckle has become a common invasive plant in the Southeast. The vine occurs along field edges, rights-of-way, under dense canopies, and high in canopies. This aggressive vine damages forest communities by out-competing native vegetation for light, resources and by changing forest structure. The vines overtop other vegetation by twining about and completely covering small trees and shrubs. As it becomes established it forms a dense blanket that endangers most shrubs, herbs and even trees. This invasive vine colonizes by prolific vine growth and seeds that are spread by birds.

A small infestation in the home landscape can be cut back to ground level in late summer and the cut ends treated with undiluted glyphosate concentrate (53.8% preferable, but 41% okay). If a thicket is present, cut all stems back to the ground with a mower or weed eater. Allow the cut stems to re-sprout, then spot-spray the sprouts with a 5% solution of glyphosate. When using herbicides remember to follow all label recommendations and wear protective equipment. Also consider contacting your local Cooperative Extension Office for advice.

Fortunately, there are several great native alternatives for your garden. Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) and our native coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) are all great choices for your garden.