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Bush Honeysuckle

Invasive Plants to Avoid: Bush Honeysuckle

Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 15-20 feet high. This shrub can be found in abundance in Cherokee and Seneca Park, but also finds its way into any wooded areas or fence lines in nearly every Olmsted Park. It is an invasive species that threatens native plants and park ecosystems.

A photo of Bush Honeysuckle

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

The shrub has many stems growing at or around the ground, and can grow to be anywhere from 6 to 20 feet. The leaves are compound, oppositely arranged and entire, with a dark green topside and a pale-green, fuzzy underside. The plants’ stems and branches are usually hollow, unlike its native lookalikes. In the spring, the shrub has small, fragrant flowers that cluster at the leaf axil. They have a tubular shape and are lobed, typically reaching 1 inch in length. Small red berries appear in September in pairs on the axils of the leaves.

Bush Honeysuckle invades wooded areas and thickets, however it has adapted to grow under moderate light conditions and in a range of soils. Birds and small animals eat the berries and spread the seeds.

WHY is it bad?

Bush Honeysuckle spreads quickly and can grow in a wide variety of environments. Because it can grow in so many conditions so quickly, it outcompetes and displaces other surrounding native plants. Like all invasive plants, Bush Honeysuckle grows rapidly because it did not evolve here with the checks and balances of competition from the plants and animals that live here. Instead it takes the place of the plants that supply the resources our native wildlife needs.

How Did it Get here?

The plant is native to Asia, and was introduced to the U.S. in 1897 for ornamental plantings. As the plant began to escape and spread it was used for conservation efforts, which led to further expansion throughout the country. Despite its harmful effects on the native species and wildlife, some still use Bush Honeysuckle for ornamental purposes. You may stumble upon it being advertised for privacy hedges for your yard, though luckily it is considered a noxious weed in many states.


Native Alternatives

Spicebush

Photo credit: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University, Bugwood.org

American Cranberrybush Viburnum


Silky Dogwood

Photo Credit: John Bonser

Our Commitment to Create Healthy Parks

Our Team for Healthy Parks crew work to keep the Olmsted Parks healthy by managing invasive species in our Olmsted Parks. Learn more about ecological restoration in this video:

Fred Facts
The Frederick Law Olmsted Firm designed the US Capitol Grounds, Jefferson Memorial, White House, and the Mall.

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