Amur honeysuckle was imported as an ornamental into New York in 1898 through the New York Botanical Garden. It has been widely planted for wildlife cover and soil erosion control but long ago escaped from plantings and began reproducing on its own and spreading into natural areas. It is adaptable to a range of conditions from sun to deep shade and wet to dry. It occurs in disturbed habitats including forest edges, forest interiors, floodplains, old fields, pastures, and roadsides. Amur honeysuckle impedes reforestation of cut or disturbed areas and prevents reestablishment of native plants. It leafs out earlier than most natives and form dense thickets too shady for most native species. While the carbohydrate-rich fruits of exotic honeysuckles provide some nutrition for birds and rodents in winter, they do not compare to the lipid-rich fruits of native species that provide greater energy to sustain migrating birds.
Amur Honeysuckle is an erect multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with arching branches that grows up to 30 feet tall. The leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, 2 to 3 inches long, green above, paler and slightly fuzzy below. Fragrant flowers are tubular with very thin petals and appear in late spring. They are white changing to yellow and 3/4 to 1 inch in length. Abundant red berries, 1/4 inch in diameter, appear in late summer and often persist throughout winter. The stems are hollow with stringy tan bark.
Amur honeysuckle is one of the most common and invasive bush honeysuckles found in the mid-Atlantic region. It occurs in most states in the eastern U.S. except for Minnesota, Maine and Florida and has been reported to be invasive in many.
What Can You Do?
Young plants can be pulled by hand, larger plants either pulled using weed wrench-type tool or cut repeatedly. Systemic herbicides containing glyphosate or triclopyr can be applied to foliage, bark or cut stems.
Forest Health Forester