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Amur Honeysuckle

Identification and Removal

Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is native to eastern Asia and was introduced into North America in 1896. Planted originally for ornamental use, and later as a wildlife cover and for soil erosion control. North America soon learned just how detrimental this invasive species is.

We have provided the following information about Amur Honeysuckle:

Honeysuckle Fact Sheet | Controlling Non-Native Invasive Plants in Ohio Forests: Bush Honeysuckle

By Ohio State University Extension and Ohio Department of Natural Resources 

How to Identify Amur Honeysuckle

Amur Honeysuckle is a multi-stemmed erect deciduous shrub with arching branches that grows up to 30 feet tall.

Stems:  Hollow with stringy tan bark.

Leaves: Opposite, simple, and ovate. They are 2 to 3 inches long, green on the top surface, pale and slightly fuzzy on the bottom.

Flowers: White to yellow, tubular in shape, 3/4 to 1 inch in length, and the petals are very thin. They bloom in the late spring, and are very fragrant. 

Fruits: Small (1/4 inch in diameter) red berries that appears in late summer and typically persist to winter. The berries are also mildly toxic if eaten in multitude, especially by children.


Amur Honeysuckle is native to eastern Asia, but can grow in a wide range of soil types. It tolerates wet soils for brief periods of time, such as at the edge of streams and creek banks that occasionally overflow. It can grow in full sun or full shade and can be found in fence-rows, thickets, woodlands, roadsides, pastures, old fields, neglected areas and lawns. It tolerates all types of pollution, and thrives on neglect. It also tolerates severe summer droughts and cold winter temperatures with minimal die-back. 

Distribution within the United States

Amur Honeysuckle has spread throughout the Eastern and Midwestern United States as indicated by the shaded states on the map.

Ecological Impacts

In forests the plant can negatively affect populations of native members of the community.Honeysuckles as a group are shallow rooted plants that leaf out earlier than and lose their leaves after many of our native plants.  Spread of seeds happens rapidly due to distribution by birds and mammals. It can form a dense under-story thicket which can restrict native plant growth and tree seedling establishment.

It has also becomes a popular nesting area for bird species, which negatively affects their populations as well. Predators (snakes,cats,rats, etc.) that normally had little to no access to the nests located high up in the canopy are now able to reach the nests as they are located in a sub-canopy shrub. 

Removal and Control Methods

When trying to control non-native invasive honeysuckle, there are several methods that may be considered. Which method is applied depends on the size of the plants, the size of the infestation, and a landowner's comfort level with the control method.

Mechanical Methods

Cutting and mowing is most effective when food reserves are at their lowest in the early summer. Pulling or digging must be done to removal all roots. If this process is repeated multiple times, small honeysuckle shrubs can be eliminated once food reserves are depleted.

Seedlings and Small Shrubs:

Can be pulled, dug, cut, or mowed fairly easily. Pulling or digging of small plants is most effective after rain since the plant has shallow rooted. 

Large Shrubs:

Mechanical control by itself will not be an effective controlling medium to large honeysuckle shrubs. Simply cutting the shrub off at the base will cause prolific sprouting and increase the number of stems. The most effective strategy for controlling mature bush honeysuckle is using herbicides.  An effective herbicide will kill both the stem and the root system, thus eliminating the potential for sprouting.

Numerous Shrubs:

These types of removals are best when the ground is frozen and NOT wet. Dense and/ or numerous shrubs may reduce access to the area. Use of a skid steer or tractor as means of removing large shrubs and/ or numerous shrubs from the work best. Once removed from the ground a follow- up treatment will need to be applied. A foliar herbicide should be applied when the remaining honeysuckle roots begin to sprout.

Damage to the land or forest around should be minimal and handled with care. Removing vast amounts of plants may result in large areas of disturbed soil and care should be taken to minimize any erosion and compaction potentially created when the plants are removed.

Chemical Methods (Herbicides)

Foliar Spraying:

A method of control in which diluted herbicide is sprayed directly on the leaves of the targeted plants, wetting the foliage, but not to the point of runoff. This is a very effective Amur Honeysuckle control method. However, spraying directed at less accessible plants can damage or kill non-target plants through herbicide drift or over-spray.

Stump Cutting:

Cutting the stump and applying herbicide is a very effective removal and control method. This involves cutting the shrub off close to the ground and applying a herbicide to the cut surfaces and bark with a spray bottle, paintbrush or paint roller. 

This method has proven to be a very popular method, it is the same method we use at all of our BEST honeysuckle removal volunteer events.


[For specific questions on types of chemical to use or our recommendations for removal, refer to the two documents in the lower left of this web page, one from the Cincinnati Nature Center and one from Butler SWCD.]

Basal Spraying:

Refers to spraying a labeled herbicide mixed with an oil-based carrier on the lower 12–18 inches portion of the shrubs trunk. This mixture is sprayed to ensure that the trunk portion is  wet, but not to the point of runoff to other possible non- target plants nearby. This treatment should only occur when the area that the plant is located is dry and NOT frozen.

Brush Removal Cost Share Program

For more information please check out the "Environmental Quality Incentives Program – Forestry (EQIP Forestry)" section on this page.


Resources Used:

Ohio Division of Forestry on Amur Honeysuckle

Ohio Environmental Council on Amur Honeysuckle

Ohio State University Extension on Controlling Non-Native Invasive Plants

USDA Forest Service on Amur Honeysuckle 

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