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.
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.
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.