Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is a noxious woody shrub, introduced in southern Ohio in the late 1950s but is now rampant across the state and throughout much of the Eastern United States. A native of northeastern Asia, this vigorous, invasive shrub has displaced many native shrubs with its aggressive growth and ability to abundantly reseed itself in neighboring areas via bird-dispersed fruits.
With a rapid growth rate, tolerance of sun or shade, and ability to withstand heat, drought, and severe winter cold, one could incorrectly assume that this is a well-adapted native shrub. Amur Honesuckle has an arching growth habit, reaching 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide in about ten to fifteen years of growth. As a member of the Honeysuckle Family, it is related to the Elderberries, Viburnums, Wiegelas, and all other Honeysuckles.
Potential Problems - Amur Honeysuckle has no significant disease or pest problems. However, it will take over an area within a few years of initial seeding, by a combination of its rapid growth rate, arching growth habit, and ability to prolifically reseed itself nearby. The only positive in terms of control is that its root system is shallow during the first several years of its life, so plants can literally be pulled up or dug out with relative ease, if caught early enough.
Identifying Features - Amur Honeysuckle
The leaves of Amur Honeysuckle are opposite, elliptical to ovate, with long drawn-out tips. Leaves emerge in very early spring, turn dark green by summer, and often remain on the shrub until November, when they slowly abscise with an ineffective, chartreuse color.
Amur Honesuckle thrives in full sun or full shade as an arching, widely spreading shrub that often out-competes many other nearby plants (except for established trees) for moisture and nutrient resources in the surrounding soil.
Flowers of Amur Honeysuckle are perfect, emerging in pairs from the leaf axils of new growth in mid- to late spring. The mildly fragrant flowers start out as white and fade to a dark gold color.
These give rise to small, dark green fruits that enlarge and change to orange-green then bright red by mid to late autumn, when they are either consumed by birds and mammals, or remain on the shrub into winter. Seed germination is abundant, and the subsequent spread of this shrub to nearby areas is prolific within a few years.
Amur Honeysuckle displays opposite, pointed, light-colored buds in winter.
Vertical strips are apparent on the basal trunks and arching branches.
The Honeysuckle Family