Native to: China, Japan, and Korea
This attractive woody vine was introduced to Florida in 1875 for agricultural and ornamental purposes, but the invasive characteristics of the plant were soon recognized. In addition to being a popular ornamental for its showy, fragrant flowers, Japanese honeysuckle has been used in places such as highways to control erosion and stabilize banks, as well as winter forage for deer. It was added to the Florida Noxious Weed List in 2021.
Habit: evergreen, woody, twining vine; younger stems are reddish in color and are fuzzy or slightly pubescent becoming smooth.
Leaves: Ovate-shaped leaves are opposite, roughly 1 ½ to 3 inches long with variably pubescent petioles
Flowers: borne solitary or in pairs in an axillary or terminal cluster and are subtended by a pair of small bract-like, petiolate leaves. There are five narrowly triangular sepals united at the base. The corolla is five-lobed, tubular, bilabiate and white or cream-colored, becoming yellowish in age. The five stamens are exserted from the corolla along with the style that attaches to an inferior ovary.
Fruit: sessile berries, 0.4-0.7 cm in diameter, hard and green when immature, and black and soft (even fluid-filled) when ripe.
Seeds: Fruits contain two or three seeds that are approximately 0.2 cm in diameter, ovate to oblong, with a flat to concave inner surface and three ridges on the dorsal surface.
Distribution in Florida: documented primarily throughout the panhandle northern-central peninsula, but also present in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Displace native species by outcompeting native plants for light, space, water, and nutrients. It grows very rapidly and sends out runners that will root and grow anywhere. In nature, honeysuckle vines will twine around anything growing in close proximity, eventually covering small trees and shrubs. This can lead to the collapse of the trees and shrubs due to the mere weight of vegetation. Dense thickets of vegetation prevent the germination and growth of many native species, eventually preventing the replacement of understory shrubs and trees. Honeysuckle opens the door for many other invasive species to invade, further decreasing the natural diversity of forests or natural areas.
Do not plant.
Native alternatives to Japanese honeysuckle for use in home landscaping include trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), and coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). Good ground cover will also prevent seed emergence and seedling establishment.
Hand-pulling, grubbing with a hoe or a shovel, and removal of trailing vines is practical for small infestations. Remove and destroy all plant material after cutting to prevent rooting and reinfestation. Periodic mowing can slow vegetative spread but may cause resprouting and increase stem density. Aggressive mechanical tillage is also effective but may not be an option in many areas. However, soil disturbance may stimulate seed germination from the seed bank.
There are no known biological control agents for Japanese honeysuckle. It has few natural enemies in North America. Deer may forage on the plant but cause limited damage.
Timing of application is critical to effective Japanese honeysuckle control. Many herbicide treatments reduce foliage but leave buds and roots undamaged that can produce new growth. Cut stump for large vines: 50% glyphosate product or 50% Garlon 3A. Foliar: 3–5% Garlon 3A or 1– 3% glyphosate product.