Asian Honeysuckle (alias: Lonicera morrowii)
Several species of honeysuckle found in NY are characterized as invasive. Morrow’s Honeysuckle is the most common in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Invasive honeysuckle is easy to spot, but identifying characteristics change throughout the year.
Look at the structure of the plant. Honeysuckle has long, arching stems, with branches coming off at a specific angle. Multiflora Rose has the same structure, but Honeysuckle stays put longer and grows old, developing thick stems. It doesn’t have the thorns that Rose has. They both produce fragrant flowers in the spring but don’t be fooled by this. This shrub has very little nutrition for birds or pollinators and out-competes native species.
Native and non-native Honeysuckles appear very similar. One way to distinguish between them is by looking at the stems – native honeysuckles have solid stems while invasive honeysuckles have hollow stems. The other way is that you will rarely see a native honeysuckle in the Hudson Valley anymore.
Honeysuckle’s fragrant-yellow white flowers are pleasant for only a few weeks. In July they produce plenty of red berries that are eaten by birds and deer if there is nothing else to forage. The berries are not very nutritious, so they must eat a lot of them, and that is how Honeysuckle spreads.
Honeysuckle will intrude on a wide range of habitats, including sunny fields and shaded woods. You will find it in the woods along the edges of yards, vacant lots, roads, and in railway and utility rights-of-way. It flourishes where heavy machinery, land movers and people have disturbed the land.
When established, Honeysuckle can form very dense thickets that suppress the growth of native plant species. Honeysuckle leafs out very early in spring, giving it a competitive advantage over native plants. By decreasing the light available to the ground cover at that critical time, Honeysuckles can alter habitats by depleting soil moisture and nutrients.
We have often found birds nesting in Asian Honeysuckle and have looked around and realized that all there was for them was Honeysuckle, Rose and Barberry. These bushes offer limited protection from predators and drive down the bird population.
Birds and deer forced to eat honeysuckle berries must consume many more berries than other native berries due to its low caloric and fat content, which in turn, distributes the seeds even further.
Eradication: We know how to dig up Honeysuckle! We take out a lot of it; and with our custom-made tools, it’s not difficult and we move surprisingly fast. You will be amazed at how our team can clear out a forest under-story.
Early spring is a good time to clear out an area before the ground cover wakes up from the winter. Fall is another good time while the plant is in decline.