In the United States, the honeysuckle bushes that grow in the wild are non-native invasive species. These honeysuckle bushes have all done what a botanist terms as "escaped from captivity"--a scenario that occurs when the seeds of ornamental plants make their way into woodlands and fields where they grow and the plant prospers. There are three major kinds of bush honeysuckles---Morrow honeysuckle, Amur honeysuckle and Tartarian honeysuckle. Each type is a bit different from the others.
According to the Virginia Tech VTree ID website, Morrow honeysuckle tends to grow as tall as 8 feet. It's a shrub with multiple stems that opens into a widened crown on the top. Morrow honeysuckle came from Asia in the latter part of the 1800s as an ornamental plant and as a shrub to provide cover and a source of food for wildlife such as birds. Like other bush honeysuckles, Morrow honeysuckle is one of the very first plants to develop leaves in the springtime, which gives it a head start on native species, allowing it to shade many of them out as it grows. The opposite leaves are rounded, hairy on their undersides and 2 to 3 inches long. The flowers resemble white tubes and are quite fragrant, turning into 1/4-inch-wide red or orange berries. This bush grows in much of the eastern part of the U.S. and well into Eastern Canada.
Amur honeysuckle grows so fast that it can reach 15 feet in height and be just as wide in 10 years' time, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website. It is tolerant of drought, heat and even extreme winter temperatures. With no major disease or insect pests that affect it, this plant may completely encompass an area in a short span of time. The early emerging leaves will remain on Amur honeysuckle until November in some states. The flowers eventually change from white to deep yellow and then morph into greenish fruits that turn a brilliant red.
Tartarian honeysuckle came to America around 1752 as an ornamental plant. It may grow between 10 to 15 feet high and the leaves are oval, as long as 5 inches, and possess a blue-green hue. The tube-like flowers are pink and stay that way until they begin to turn to berries by July. The berries are red, with some being yellow, and are quite juicy. Urban areas typically have large amounts of Tartarian honeysuckle but the shrub has also colonized rural settings, existing along roadsides, in pastures and long-abandoned meadows and fields. Like Amur and Morrow's honeysuckle, the range of the plant expands as birds devour the fruit, complete with the plant's seeds, and then spread the seeds around in their droppings.