Bush Honeysuckle
Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), also known as Amur honeysuckle, is one of the most destructive invasive species in the St. Louis region. The Garden recently created a new bush honeysuckle brochure to increase public awareness of this issue and encourage citizens of our region to take notice and take action. This page on invasive bush honeysuckle provides complimentary information for the brochure, including expanded content on its origins and impacts, detailed instructions for control, native plants that are similar in appearance, and suggested landscaping alternatives.
Honeysuckle History

Description of Bush Honeysuckle

By far the most common species of bush honeysuckle in the Saint Louis region is Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), though there are several similar invasive Asian bush honeysuckle species present in Missouri and Illinois. All of these invasive Asian bush honeysuckles are dense, upright, deciduous shrubs with shallow roots, growing from 3-15 feet in height, with opposite leaves and pairs of brightly colored red or orange berries near the base of the leaves in fall.

Amur honeysuckle (often referred to simply as bush honeysuckle; Lonicera maackii) is the most common species in our region, and has pale yellowish-white flowers and bright red, nearly translucent berries.

Bell’s honeysuckle, or fly honeysuckle, (L. x bella) is also invasive in Missouri and Illinois. Morrow’s honeysuckle (L. morrowii) and Tatarian honeysuckle (L. tartarica) have invaded Illinois and other Midwestern states, and should be considered a threat in Missouri. This educational brochure from the Forest Invasive Plants Resource Center includes a table that compares these different Asian bush honeysuckles. This information may be of interest for the botanically inclined, though volunteers working to remove bush honeysuckle need not worry about these subtle distinctions. All of these species are invasive and are more similar to one another than to any native plant with which they might be confused.

Invasive bush honeysuckles are most easily identified in the early spring, when they leaf-out earlier than native shrubs, or the fall, when they are still green after native shrubs have dropped their leaves.

Bush Honeysuckle Removal and Control

When: Bush honeysuckle can be removed any time of the year. However, early spring and late fall are ideal for locating and removing this invasive shrub, since it has leaves when our native shrubs and trees do not. Once you develop an eye for the yellowish-green leaves of bush honeysuckle in late fall, this time of the year is ideal for detecting isolated shrubs and removing them before the infestation expands.

How: There are multiple effective methods of removing bush honeysuckle. Selecting the right approach depends upon a number of factors, such as the area covered by the invasion, the size of the plants to be removed, and your personal capabilities and preferences. These instructions are intended to provide homeowners and volunteers information necessary to take action against bush honeysuckle. Some additional methods for controlling large-scale infestations used by professional contractors and conservation organizations with highly specialized equipment and experience are not addressed.