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Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast

Japanese Honeysuckle

Japanese Honeysuckle

Common Name: Japanese Honeysuckle

Scientific Name: Lonicera japonica

Identification: Japanese Honeysuckle is an evergreen woody vine that may reach 80 feet in length.  The leaves are opposite and elliptically shaped.  The tan vine may reach a thickness of 2 inches in diameter.  Fragrant, white or pale yellow tubular flowers appear in April to August.  Spherical, black glossy berries containing 2 to 3 seeds mature from June to March.

Ecology: Japanese Honeysuckle is a common invasive plant in the Southeast.  The shade tolerant vine occurs along field edges, right-of-ways, under dense canopies, and high in canopies.  This invasive vine colonizes by prolific vine growth and seeds that are spread by birds.

Plant Control: Unless it is a large infestation, vines in the home landscape (on fences or arbors) can be cut back to ground level in late summer and the cut ends treated with undiluted glyphosate concentrate (53.8% preferable but 41% okay).  If a thicket is present, cut all stems back to the ground with a mower or weed-eater, if possible. Allow the cut stems to re-sprout, then spot-spray the sprouts with a 5% solution of glyphosate with surfactant. If mechanical vine control prior to herbicide application is impractical, you can spray the stand with a 5% glyphosate and surfactant solution in late summer, but note that non-target plants may be at higher risk with this method. Increase solution strength if necessary and re-treat as needed for complete control.  Note:  Some sources recommend foliar-spraying on a warm day in winter to reduce damage to other non-target plants but this has not proven to be a reliable method as the honeysuckle has to be actively growing to take up the herbicide and the non-target plants have to be completely dormant.
Alternative Native Species: Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)

When using herbicides remember to follow label-recommendations.  Any mention of trade, products, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by North Carolina State University.

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