Japanese Honeysuckle

Lonicera japonica

Copyright, James Manhart

Japanese Honeysuckle is a plant almost everyone knows. Children love it, because they can suck the sweet nectar from its flowers. Many adults hate it, since it grows quickly and can strangle other plants.

Japanese Honeysuckle can be a shrub or a vine. Usually it's seen as a vine, growing up tree trunks or covering another shrub.

This plant was brought here from Asia and has spread steadily. It is is usually seen on the edges of woods, streams, or roads. It also lives in fields and gardens.

Japanese Honeysuckle has three-inch leaves which are green and oval-shaped. They are opposite, which means two leaves grow as a pair from the same spot on the stem, but on opposite sides.

The twigs of this plant are sometimes hairy.

Michael Clayton, Wisconsin State Herbarium

Michael Clayton, Wisconsin State Herbarium

Japanese Honeysuckle is best known for its sweet-smelling flowers. They are white at first, turning yellow as they get older. Flowers are also in pairs, and each flower can reach one and a half inches long. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, bees, and other insects visit the flowers for nectar. They also help pollinate the plant, taking pollen from one flower to another.

Pollination is how a plant can grow fruit, which holds seeds, which can grow into new plants. If honeysuckle doesn't get pollinated, it can't spread and grow new plants.

Honeysuckle fruits are small black beries, about 1/4 inch wide. Many birds eat them, including Tufted Titmouse, Northern Bobwhite, American Goldfinch, Northern Mockingbird, and Eastern Bluebird. Birds help the plants spread by pooping seeds out in new places.

Copyright, www.delawarewildflowers.org

Japanese Honeysuckle is a fast-growing climber. As it gets older, it develops a thick, woody stem. It is very strong and does not break easily.

This vine can climb trees, wrapping itself around the tree and covering branches with its own stems and leaves. If the tree can not get light to its leaves, or if the honeysuckle plant is soaking up all the water through its roots, the tree could die. This makes Japanese Honeysuckle a parasite.

Honeysuckle can quickly smother a shrub and it can cover low-growing plants as well. Many plants cannot compete with honeysuckle.

Some plants that Japanese Honeysuckle is often found near, or growing upon, include: Eastern Redcedar, oaks, American Beech, Yellow Poplar, Sassafras, pines, Sweetgum, American Elm, hickories, maples, Flowering Dogwood, Highbush Blueberry, Greenbrier, and Poison Ivy.

Landscape Horticulture at Auburn University

Besides insects drinking nectar, and birds eating berries, White-tailed Deer will eat the plants themselves.

Many small animals also use Japanese Honeysuckle as cover and protection. Wild Turkey, Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Cottontail, squirrels, American Toad, salamanders, frogs, and many insects do this. Deer often use honeysuckle growing on the ground as a bed.

Japanese Honeysuckle flowers bloom from April to July.

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants


Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Wild Turkey

Eastern Redcedar

White Oak Pa

Honey Bee

White-tailed Deer

Willow Oak

Eastern Redcedar H

Golden Northern Bumble Bee

Eastern Cottontail

White Oak

American Beech H

White-tailed Deer

Eastern Gray Squirrel

American Beech

Yellow Poplar H

Tufted Titmouse

Northern Bobwhite

Yellow Poplar

Sassfras H

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Chipmunk


Virginia Pine H

Northern Bobwhite

American Toad

Virginia Pine

Sweetgum H

Northern Mockingbird

Chinese Mantid


American Elm H

American Goldfinch

Rabid Wolf Spider

American Elm

Mockernut Hickory H


Black and Yellow Argiope

Eastern White Pine

Red Maple H

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Garden Centipede

Mockernut Hickory

Flowering Dogwood H

Hummingbird Moth

Northern Ringneck Snake

Red Maple

Poison Ivy H

Pipevine Swallowtail

Wood Frog

Flowering Dogwood

Highbush Blueberry H

Spotted Salamander

Poison Ivy

Hummingbird Moth Po


Highbush Blueberry

Evergreen Blackberry H

Black Carpenter Ant


Eastern Bluebird D

Horned Fungus Beetle

Loblolly Pine

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Po

Fiery Searcher

Evergreen Blackberry

Honey Bee Po

Convergent Ladybug Beetle

Smooth Sumac

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Po

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle

Pipevine Swallowtail Po

Relationship to Humans:

As mentioned above, some people love Japanese Honeysuckle and some people hate it. Even though it crowds out native plants, many people grow it on purpose, especially as a groundcover. Others grow it because they like the smell it gives off in early Summer and the pretty flowers which attract wildlife. Also, sometimes Japanese Honeysuckle can crowd out other climbing plants which are undesirable, such as Poison Ivy.


Lonicera japonica


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