There are many different species of honeysuckles, but the main concerns are about the three exotic species: Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) Morrow's Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii), and Bella Honeysuckle (Lonicera x bella) which is a hybrid of the Morrow and Tartarian. Honeysuckles are deciduous shrubs that can reach a height of 20 feet. The leaves on the stems are opposite of each other and are smooth on the edges. Each species differs in the color of their flowers that usually grow in May or June. The flowers of Tartarian honeysuckle are pink, but may vary from white to red. Flowers of both the Morrow and Bella honeysuckles are white and become yellow with age. Fruits of all three species are red or yellow in pairs in the axils of the leaves. The branches of smaller shrubs are hollow.
Exotic bush honeysuckles are natives of Asia and Eastern Europe. Tartarians were brought to the United States in 1752 to be used as ornamentals, while the other two were introduced around the late 1800's. All three are found mainly around urban areas, but as the bush honeysuckles were used as wildlife habitats, they spread out into rural areas. In the eastern parts of the United States south to North Carolina, the exotic bush honeysuckle has become naturalized. Exotic bush honeysuckle can survive a range of soils and conditions, but it mainly thrives in sunny areas, such as roadsides or at the edge of forests.
Once the exotic bush honeysuckles get settled in, their earlier leaf expansion and later fall retention gives them the advantage over native plants. Some scientists believe they may prevent other plants to grow, releasing chemicals in a process called the alleopathic effect.
Want to Help Us Better Understand the Park?
See our iNaturalist project, "The Life of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area" and contribute to it by downloading the iNaturalist app and uploading your sightings of this species, and others, to the project. You can also upload your sightings from your computer.