Japanese honeysuckle

(Lonicera japonica)

Description: A perennial, twisting vine with opposite leaves that can be deciduous or evergreen. New growth will have red, fuzzy stems, whereas older stems appear tan. The flowers are white, late spring into summer, then turn yellow and bear a sweet-smelling fragrance. Black fruits develop in the fall.

Impact: This invasive was introduced in New York in the early 19th century as an ornamental that didn’t become a problem until nearly two centuries later. It’s main impact is how fast it grows, twisting and climbing over native grasses, native shrubs and even into trees. If not controlled, a mature stand of Japanese honeysuckle can girdle, choke and kill woody vegetation. Although the berries provide a food source for birds, the nutritional quality of the fruits is poor.

Management: Young shoots (this year’s growth) can be removed by hand and should be removed before June. Large swaths can be controlled with a combination of mowing (once in early summer and again in late summer) and painting stems with a topical herbicide. Mowing alone can control the invasive after multiple years. Management should occur before the plant fruits in the fall.