Honeysuckle Spp. (Lonicera spp.) L. morrowii, L.tatarica, and L.maackii are perennial shrubs and L. japonica is a perennial woody vine.
These non-native honeysuckle species originated from Asia and were introduced to the United States in 1896. It was first used as an ornamental plant, later it was used for wildlife cover and to mitigate soil erosion.
Non-native honeysuckles are a group of plants with shallow roots that leaf out earlier and lose their leaves later than most native species. They negatively affect the forest community with their ability to outcompete native vegetation. Birds and mammals distribute the seeds leading to rapid spreading and wide distribution. Honeysuckles form dense thickets in the under-story of the forest and as a result, they inhibit the growth of native species and seedling establishment.
Shrubs can range from 6 to 15 feet in height and vines can grow up to 30 feet. Honeysuckles’ have egg-shaped leaves that are oppositely arranged on the stem. They produce fragrant tubular flowers that range in color from an off white to pink. Red, occasionally orange to yellow, round berries are produced in clusters from mid-summer to early fall. An easy way to identify non-native honeysuckles is that they have hollow stems, while native honeysuckles have solid stems.
Controlling efforts depend on the size of the plants and the size of infestation.
Small plants and seedlings can be pulled, dug, cut, or mowed. Larger plants must be removed by hand tools (Uprooter, Root Talon, etc.), tractor, skid steer or equipment that can pull shrubs out of the ground. Cutting and mowing honeysuckles are most effective in the early summer when the plants’ food reserves are low. When digging up the plant all roots must be removed. Also, it is easier and more efficient to pull when the soil is very moist due to the shallow roots. Sprouting will likely occur using this method and will require long-term management.
Herbicide is an effective way of controlling non-native honeysuckles and may be applied using foliar spray, cut stump, or basal spray methods and is best applied in the fall when the plant will naturally draw the chemical to its roots and non-target impacts are reduced due to native species going dormant.
Foliar Spray: diluted herbicide is sprayed directly on the foliage, avoiding contact with non-target plant species. Leaves should be sprayed until wet, not runoff (over-spraying) which could damage non-target species. Mid to late October is the best time to apply foliar spray since non-native honeysuckle leaves are still green during this time and non-native species have lost their leaves. Typical herbicides used include glyphosate, triclopyr + 2,4-D, and triclopyr. All herbicides should be applied according to label instructions.
Cut Stump: shrub stems are cut close to the ground and herbicide is applied to the cut surface and sometimes the bark with a spray bottle, paintbrush, roller, or wicking device. Herbicide should be applied during the late summer, fall, or when dormant. Typical herbicides used include glyphosate, 2,4-D + piclorum, 2,4-D + triclopyr, and triclopyr. All herbicides should be applied according to label instructions.
Basal Spray: lower 12-18 inches of shrub stems are sprayed with a mix of herbicide and oil-based carrier. Stems should be sprayed until wet, avoiding overspray and runoff. Application should occur during the dormant season. Typical herbicides used include triclopyr + imazapyr, triclopyr, and 2,4-D + triclopyr. All herbicides should be applied according to label instructions.
To enhance control efforts, it is also important to plant native species in areas where you’ve removed an invasive species. This reduces the reestablishment of the target species or a new invasive species in the treatment area. Some native alternatives for bush honeysuckle are, common serviceberry and American elderberry both of which have a similar formation with beautiful blooms and colorful berries that support native wildlife. Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a good alternative for the invasive Japanese honeysuckle vine; plus it attracts hummingbirds which makes for an excellent addition to a garden. Learn more about native alternatives to common invasive plants on the NYS IPM website.
Searching for invasive species populations in an effort to detect their presence before their populations become too large to manage is vital to reducing the impacts of invasive species on our natural ecosystems.
Click the link below to learn more about the species we’re enhancing early detection efforts for and to join our invasive species Volunteer Surveillance Network to aid this effort (training will be provided).
NYiMapInvasives is an online, collaborative, GIS-based database and mapping tool that serves as the official invasive species database for New York State.
Click the links below to become familiar with iMap
Watch a playlist of webinars that discuss the impacts of invasive plants and the benefits of growing native plants in your garden.