Non-native bush honeysuckles

Four-petaled white flowers and slender seed capsules of garlic mustard.


Non-native bush honeysuckles were introduced to the United States as ornamental shrubs. They thrive in sunny and moderately shaded disturbed areas, where they can out-compete and shade out native woodland species. There are four different species of non-native bush honeysuckle of concern to Minnesota, Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), Morrow's honeysuckle (L. morrowii), Bell's honeysuckle (L. x bella), and Amur honeysuckle (L. maackii).



There are four different species of non-native bush honeysuckle that are similar in appearance. They all are upright deciduous shrubs with long arching branches, and are commonly 5 to 20 feet tall. They produce an abundance of red to orange-yellow berries.

Leaves and stem

All leaves are opposite, simple, oval, and untoothed. Leaf variation between the different species are listed below:

  • Tatarian honeysuckle (L. tatarica) has smooth, hairless leaves.
  • Morrow's honeysuckle (L. morrowii) has densely hairy leaves.
  • Bell's honeysuckle (L. x bella) is similar to Morrow's honeysuckle, except that the top of the leaves is only sparsely hairy, while the underside is hairy.
  • Amur honeysuckle (L. maackii) leaves come to a long, sharp point.

All species' stems older than two years usually have a hollow brown pith or core in the center of the stem. Bark of mature stems is brown to gray, rough, and often peeling.


Flowers are fragrant, tubular, and bloom in May and June. Most often flowers are pink, occasionally white or red.


Fruits are smooth red or orange-yellow berries, situated in pairs in the leaf axils. Birds will eat berries when there is a shortage of native food, however berries do not provide good nutritional value for birds


Roots are shallow and thin with many branches.


Honeysuckle thrives in sunny and moderately shaded disturbed areas. It can also out compete and shade out native woodland species. Honeysuckle reproduction occurs from both sprouting and seeds. Tatarian honeysuckle can hybridize with Morrow, creating Bell's honeysuckle. Bell's honeysuckle displays characteristics of both Tatarian and Morrow.

Origin and spread

Bush honeysuckles are native to central and eastern Asia and were introduced to the United States as ornamental shrubs. Honeysuckles are most commonly found in the northeastern United States but can be found throughout most of the country. Visit EDDMapS to see current distribution

Don't be fooled by these look-alikes

  • Fly honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis): This native honeysuckle has many similar characteristics to the non-native varieties but can be easily distinguished by having a solid stem rather than hollow.
  • Bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera): This native honeysuckle has elongated capsules for fruit rather than round berries. It also has toothed leaf edges and solid stem centers.
Regulatory classification

This species is a Minnesota Department of Agriculture Restricted Noxious Weed meaning it is illegal to import, sell, or transport.

Threat to Minnesota
  • Non-native honeysuckles displace native forest shrubs and herbaceous plants by their invasive nature and early leaf-out. They shade out herbaceous ground cover and deplete soil moisture.
  • Seeds are readily dispersed by birds but do not provided nutritional value.
  • Some research suggests that honeysuckles inhibits the growth of other plants in its vicinity.
What you should do

One way that invasive plant seeds and fragments can spread is in soil. Sometimes plants are planted purposefully. You can prevent the spread of invasive plants.

PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks

  • REMOVE plants, animals and mud from boots, gear, pets and vehicle.
  • CLEAN your gear before entering and leaving the recreation site.
  • STAY on designated roads and trails.
  • PLANT non-invasive species.
Native Substitutes
Control Methods

Mechanical control can be done by pulling seedlings in small infestations when soil is moist. Prescribed burning will kill seedlings and top kill mature shrubs, but repeated burns may be needed to control infestations.

Herbicide control can be done using a cut-stump treatment with glyphosate, triclopyr amine, or triclopyr ester. Basal bark spray treatment around the stem with triclopyr ester is also effective. Spraying the leaves with a glyphosate solution, prior to leaf out of native species, where burning is not possible, can also be effective.


Report new occurrences by submitting a report through EDDMapS, emailing Report a Pest, calling Report a Pest (1-888-545-6684), or contacting your local county agricultural inspector.


Back to top