Lonicera maackii

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Lonicera maackii
Lonicera maackii
Lonicera maackii

Amur Honeysuckle
Binomial:Lonicera maackii
Weediness:weedy, invasive in some regions

Lonicera maackii (Amur Honeysuckle or Bush Honeysuckle) is a species of honeysuckle in the family Caprifoliaceae, native to temperate Asia in northern and western China (south to Yunnan), Mongolia, Japan (central and northern Honshū, rare), Korea, and southeastern Russia (Primorsky Krai).[1] It is listed as an endangered species in Japan.[2][3] It has escaped from cultivation and become naturalised in New Zealand and the eastern United States; in the forests of the latter, it has become an important invasive species.[4]

The common name Amur Honeysuckle comes from the Amur River which is the world's eighth longest river. This river forms the border between the Russian Far East and Manchuria in China. L. maackii is native to the area surrounding this river. The species name maackii is derived from Richard Maack, a 19th century Russian naturalist.[5]

Description[edit | edit source]

Foliage and fruit in autumn

It is a deciduous large shrub growing to 6 m tall with stems up to 10 cm diameter. The leaves are oppositely arranged, 5–9 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with an entire margin, and with at least some rough hairs on them. The flowers are produced in pairs, commonly with several pairs grouped together in clusters; they are 2 cm long, two-lipped, white later turning yellow or light orange in colour; flowering is from mid spring to early summer. The fruit is a bright red to black semi-translucent berry 2–6 mm diameter containing numerous small seeds; they ripen in autumn, and are eaten by birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings. It is fast growing and favours shady habitats such as the forest understory, neglected urban areas, and fence rows. It can form extremely dense thickets.[6][7][8]

Growing Conditions[edit | edit source]

Varieties[edit | edit source]

Uses[edit | edit source]

Lonicera maackii planted as a hedge.

It is grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive flowers, and also as a hedge. A number of cultivars have been selected for garden use, including 'Erubescens' with pink flowers, and 'Rem Red' with erect habit.[6]

The flowers are sometimes used by children, who remove the blossom by hand, and pull off the bottom to suck out the sweet nectar in the centre. The red berries are mildly poisonous to humans and should not be eaten.

Invasiveness[edit | edit source]

Spread of this plant is illegal or controlled in some areas of the United States due to its well documented invasive character.[4][5][7][9][10] It is listed as a "invasive, banned" species in Connecticut, "prohibited" in Massachusetts, and a "Class B noxious weed" in Vermont.[11] It is also officially listed as an invasive species by government agencies in Wisconsin and Tennessee.[11]

This plant is adaptable and successful in a wide range of conditions. In the United States, Amur honeysuckle was once planted to control erosion, and as hedges. It spread quickly as birds dispersed the seeds, and was soon naturalised. Notably, in deciduous forest understories of the eastern United States it forms dense growths with thick canopies that shade out native shrubs, young trees, and wild flowers.[4][5][7][9][10] Uncontrolled, these growths create a near monoculture of Amur Honeysuckle.[4][5][7][9][10] This species poses a serious threat not only to the diversity of the ecosystems which they invade but also to forest regeneration itself.[4][5][7][9][10]

Due to the invasive nature of this species and the ecological threat it possess it may be inadvisable to cultivate this plant in climates similar to those found where this species has become invasive (e.g. eastern United States).[9] It has been suggested that existing specimens found outside of their native range in east Asia should be removed and replaced with alternative non-invasive species.[5] Possible alternative fast growing, shade tolerant, deciduous shrubs include Calycanthus floridus, Cornus mas, Cornus sericea, Forsythia hybrids, Hydrangea spp., Syringa vulgaris, Viburnum cassinoides, Viburnum dentatum, Viburnum dilatatum, Viburnum opulus , Viburnum prunifolium, Viburnum trilobum, Weigela florida.[5]

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

Control[edit | edit source]

Honeysuckle can be controlled by cutting, flaming, or burning the plant to root level and repeating on two-week increments until nutrient reserves in the roots are depleted. To ensure eradication newly cut stumps should be treated with herbicide. Control through prescribed burning has been found to be most effective during the seed dispersal phase (late summer, early fall).[4] Honeysuckle can also be controlled through annual applications of glyphosate which thoroughly soak the leaves, or through grubbing of the shallowly rooted young plants. Both of these methods are only practical if high labour costs and soil damage are not of concern.

Propagation[edit | edit source]

Harvest[edit | edit source]

Pests and Diseases[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Germplasm Resources Information Network: Lonicera maackii
  2. Ministry of the Environment (Japan): Red List of Threatened Plants of Japan (excel spreadsheet)
  3. Red Data Book (Japan): Lonicera maackii (in Japanese, with map; google translation)
  4. a b c d e f USA Forest Service Weed of the Week Fact Sheet (pdf file)
  5. a b c d e f g Ohio State University Pocket Gardener: L. maackii
  6. a b Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  7. a b c d e Missouriplants: Lonicera maackii
  8. Invasive.org: Lonicera species (pdf file)
  9. a b c d e Annotated Bibliography of primary research on invasive qualities of L. maackii in the USA: National Biological Information Infrastructure
  10. a b c d University of Connecticut Plant Database: L. maackii
  11. a b USDA PLANTS DATABASE: L. maackii