December Weed of the Month: Japanese Honeysuckle

department of agriculture

December 1, 2020

December Weed of the Month: Japanese Honeysuckle

Monika Chandler, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

The sweet fragrance of Japanese honeysuckle flowers, often described as heavenly, lures pollinators long distances. In addition, Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is an attractive woody vine that can grow up to 80 feet long. It was widely planted in southern and central states for both ornamental and erosion control purposes.

Unlike the abundant and damaging non-native bush honeysuckles that are shrubs, Japanese honeysuckle is a vine. The leaves are simple. Pairs of leaves and flowers are positioned opposite along the vines. Tubular flowers are initially white then fade to yellow with age. Their heady fragrance is most potent at dusk to attract moths. Additional pollinators include bees, wasps, and hummingbirds. Fruits are small purple-black berries. Wildlife can eat these fruits and spread seeds. Vines trailing on the ground can root then send up additional vines.

Tubular flowers of the Japanese honeysuckle are initially white then fade to yellow with age.

The tubular flowers of the Japanese honeysuckle plant are initially white then fade to yellow with age.

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Because Japanese honeysuckle was not considered sufficiently cold hardy for Minnesota winters, it was not widely planted in our state. This turned out to be fortunate because it escaped cultivation elsewhere and is very problematic. It grows quickly to form dense tangles that overtake other vegetation. Native to Japan, Korea, and eastern China, the vines proliferate without the insects and disease that control them in their native range.

There are no documented occurrences of Japanese honeysuckle naturalizing in Minnesota despite troublesome occurrences in Wisconsin and Michigan. To prevent the introduction and establishment of Japanese honeysuckle in Minnesota, it was designated prohibited eradicate, meaning that all above and below ground parts of the plant must be destroyed and the propagation or sale of Japanese honeysuckle is prohibited.

If you think you found Japanese honeysuckle, please report your find to Arrest the Pest. You can email photos to or call 1-888-545-6684.

MEDIA: For more information on Weed of the Month, contact Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications, at or 651-201-6185

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