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A Successful Invader Blossoms in May.

May 24, 2011

Amur Honeysuckle

I’m sure that you’ve noticed all sorts of trees and bushes flowering this spring.  Here in Ohio, one bush in particular is very widespread, and it is hard to miss in woods, fields and roadsides.  Its numerous white blossoms almost define spring.

Close up, the blooms show an intricate detail, all in symmetrical rows along the branches.  Its leaves come to a fine point.

This is Amur Honeysuckle, a deciduous woody shrub that’s native to eastern Asia.  It was introduced to North America in the 1800’s as an ornamental landscaping plant, but it spread into the wild over the eastern United States and Canada.  It is a hardy species, leafing early in spring and retaining those leaves late into the fall.  Birds spread its seeds through droppings, and it dominates the undergrowth to the point of crowding out other native species.

This plant is an excellent example of an invasive species.  Basically, an invasive species is one which is not a native to a region that adversely affects its new environment, often by crowding out native species.  When a species takes over a specific niche to the exclusion of others, it is said to be an example of  monoculture.

As you can see in the above photo, this plant can dominate the areas it grows in.  Some landowners attempt to eradicate it with varying results.  Ironically, this plant is an endangered species in Japan.  I’m sure there are people in North America who would be happy to share their bounty with the Japanese!

Late in the month, the blooms of the Amur Honeysuckle start turning yellow and dropping off.

This plant will come to our attention once more in the autumn- I’ll be talking about it again at that time.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2011 6:41 am

    Those flowers are quite beautiful 🙂 Seems Japanese plants can be pretty invasive, we have problems with the Japanese knotweed in the UK! It’s not quite as pretty as this honeysuckle though. It’s interesting to know that this is an endangered species in Japan itself.

    • May 25, 2011 9:36 am

      You’re right, honeysuckle is pretty. May is the big month for its flowering, that’s when it’s very noticeable, and then around autumn you see another feature of this plant- you can probably guess what that is, being a biologist-in-training 🙂

  2. May 31, 2011 9:21 pm

    I feel as if I should bring a notebook when reading your blog, so educational! Hard to see a good point in an invasive, but I must grudgingly agree that it is attractive.

    • May 31, 2011 11:22 pm

      Thanks! 🙂 I still can’t get over the fact that this plant is endangered anywhere in the world- it seems to be everywhere in Ohio!

  3. June 7, 2011 10:12 pm

    It’s quite amazing how many invasive species there are these days, but I didn’t know that honeysuckle was one of them. Mine is being choked by a nasty fast growing invasive vine that it makes me wish for honeysuckle.

  4. June 23, 2017 2:31 pm

    I’ve seen another version of wild honeysuckle here in Ohio. It does not have a pointed leaf-tip as this one does. It has a rounded leaf-tip and the flowers are either white or pink.

    • June 23, 2017 4:50 pm

      There are different varieties out there for sure, mk- I think I know the one you are talking about. I’d like to get better at identifying plants!


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