How to ID a Honeysuckle Plant

Overview

The honeysuckle plant comes in 180 different varieties, some of which are native to the United States, like the trumpet honeysuckle or the native yellow honeysuckle. But the plant that most gardeners are concerned with properly identifying is the invasive Japanese honeysuckle. The Japanese honeysuckle was introduced to America as a fast-growing ornamental shrub used for ground cover. Japanese honeysuckle soon dominates an environment by smothering and killing native plants.

Step 1

Examine the flowers of the plant. Honeysuckle flowers are trumpet or bell shaped and hold nectar that feeds hummingbirds and butterflies. Honeysuckle flowers can be red, pink, white or yellow, depending on the species. Invasive Japanese honeysuckle have 1 1/2-inch-long white flowers that bloom in the summer and fade to yellow.

Step 2

Smell the plant's flowers--not all varieties of honeysuckle are fragrant, but most types of honeysuckle have a pleasant sweet smell. The sweet smell of a honeysuckle is one of the easiest ways to identify the plant.

Step 3

Look for a vine. Many types of honeysuckles are climbing vines, but some native species are shrubs. The invasive Japanese honeysuckle is a vining plant capable of climbing tall trees and reaching lengths of up to 120 feet.

Step 4

Find the fruit. Honeysuckle plants grow seed inside round berries that birds eat. Birds help spread the honeysuckle plants when they discard the seeds with their waste. Japanese honeysuckle has a cluster of two or three black berries, while native yellow honeysuckle grows red berries and blue honeysuckle grows a dark blue to purplish berry. Wild honeysuckle berries are poisonous to humans, but some honeysuckle plants produce an edible berry and are sold in nurseries under the name Berry Blue, Svetlana and Cinderella. Do not eat wild honeysuckle berries.

References

  • USDA: Japanese Honeysuckle
  • University of Florida: Japanese Honeysuckle
  • Missouri Department of Conservation: Curse of the Bush Honeysuckles
Keywords: ID honeysuckle, invasive honeysuckle vine, Japanese honeysuckle flower

About this Author

Denise Bertacchi is a freelance writer with a degree in journalism from Southeast Missouri State University. She is a St. Louis suburbanite who has written for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Boys' Life, Wisconsin Trails, and Missouri Life.