The Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)

The Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) originated in Eastern Asia and was imported to the United States in the nineteenth century, with the intention of using it for ground cover. Currently, it thrives all across the southern and eastern states. This honeysuckle has not adapted to the northern states because it cannot handle the harshness of northern winters. In fact, it cannot handle any cold well.

The Japanese Honeysuckle can be rather vicious to other plants, from little shrubs to plants as large as small trees. Its shade can be downright deadly for plants that grow where this honeysuckle chooses to live. If the plants it starves of sunlight do not die, they will still not grow to their full potential and may lose their reproductive ability.

The Japanese Honeysuckle is quite aggressive in its approach, even acting like a boa constrictor and wrapping itself around its target, choking them so that water cannot flow through the plant. The only chance for survival other plants growing near this honeysuckle have is to grow where other plants are not so densely packed.

The Japanese Honeysuckle is a very prolific vine, very commonly growing to thirty feet or even more! The vine, coated by very thin hairs, will hollow out as it ages. Its bark will begin to peel and flake off. The vine and leaves are a bright or dark green, sometimes lobed, and approximately 2 inches in length. The color of the leaves will be different depending on the severity of the cold season that preceded it. The flowers are a very pretty white that turns to a light yellow as they mature. They are shaped like trumpets and grow in pairs all along the plant, emitting a pleasant aroma.

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As well as flowers, berries also grow on the Japanese Honeysuckle plant. The berries ripen in the fall, and though they do not contain many seeds, the plant is able to reproduce, inhabit, and take over just about any surroundings it chooses. It can grow on the side of the road or in the depths of the woods, and it will thrive wherever it chooses to do so. While the plant is remarkable for being able to flourish almost anywhere, it can also damage the flora native to the area. It will take advantage of situations where insects or industry have upset the natural balance of an ecosystem and rapidly conquer and occupy any land available, consequently killing off any local vegetation.

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