Lonicera japonica

Japanese honeysuckle
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Genus: Lonicera
Species: L. japonica
Binomial name
Lonicera japonica
  • Caprifolium chinense S.Watson ex Loudon
  • Caprifolium japonicum (Thunb.) Dum.Cours.
  • Caprifolium roseum Lam.
  • Lonicera brachypoda Siebold
  • Lonicera chinensis P. Watson
  • Lonicera fauriei H. Lév. & Vaniot
  • Lonicera shintenensis Hayata

Lonicera japonica, the Japanese honeysuckle[2] (suikazura スイカズラ/吸い葛 or 忍冬 in Japanese; jinyinhua 金银花 or rendongteng 忍冬藤 in Chinese, 인동 or 겨우살이덩굴 in Korean) is a species of honeysuckle native to eastern Asia including China, Japan and Korea. It is a twining vine[3] able to climb up to 10 metres (33 ft) high or more in trees, with opposite, simple oval leaves 3–8 centimetres (1.2–3.1 in) long and 2–3 centimetres (0.79–1.18 in) broad. The flowers are double-tongued, opening white and fading to yellow, and sweetly vanilla scented. The fruit is a black spherical berry 3–4 millimetres (0.12–0.16 in) diameter containing a few seeds.[4]

It is an invasive species in a number of countries.

Cultivation, management and uses

This species is often sold by American nurseries as the cultivar 'Hall's Prolific' (Lonicera japonica var. halliana). It is an effective groundcover, and has pleasant, strong-smelling flowers. It can be cultivated by seed, cuttings, or layering. In addition, it will spread itself via shoots if given enough space to grow.

In both its native and introduced range, Japanese honeysuckle can be a significant source of food for deer, rabbits, hummingbirds and other wildlife.[5]

The variety L. japonica var. repens[6] has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Invasive species


Japanese honeysuckle has become naturalized in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand and much of the US, including Hawaii, as well as a number of Pacific and Caribbean islands.

Japanese honeysuckle is classified as a noxious weed in Texas,[7] Illinois, and Virginia, and is banned in New Hampshire.[8] It grows extremely rapidly in parts of America such as southwestern Ohio and is virtually impossible to control in naturalized woodland edge zones due to its rapid spread via tiny fruit seeds. It aggressively grows over native shrubs and trees, choking them, and can also form mat-like monocultures that prevent the establishment of native species. The succession cycle of a forest is not all that different than a human life span-70-100 years. Accordingly, it is the aggressive displacement that poses a long term threat to future generations of native forests.It is also very difficult to manage in semi-wild areas, such as in large rural yards.

Privacy and harborage

In densely populated urban settings, its quick dense growth, drought tolerance, disease immunity, early leafing and late leaf loss make it appreciated as a privacy screen. It is unlikely that the general public could be discouraged from valuing these benefits in spite of it being an invasive species. As well, in such urban or suburban settings, the effect on development of next-generation hardwoods is less than in an open forest of any acreage. In urban environments, it is also valued by laypeople as wildlife habitat. While Japanese honeysuckle is undoubtedly better for flora and fauna than no habitat, there is no evidence that it is better than native habitat and empirical reasoning would suggest that it is inherently not as a result of its well documented interference with normal succession cycles-especially of flora (plants).

It is listed on the New Zealand National Pest Plant Accord as an unwanted organism.[9]

It can be controlled to some degree via labor-intensive methods such as cutting or burning the plant to root level and repeating at two-week intervals until nutrient reserves in the roots are depleted. It can also be controlled through annual applications of glyphosate, or through grubbing if high labor and soil destruction are not of concern. Cutting the honeysuckle to within 5–10 cm of the ground and then applying glyphosate has proven to be more effective, provided that the mixture is rather concentrated (20–25%) and is applied immediately after making the cut.

In urban environments of Southwest Ohio where deer population is high, some level of longer-term management has been observed by cutting the honeysuckle to within 18-24" of the ground. Grazing deer substantially slow down regrowth. Once the canopy from a stand of honeysuckle or that of an individual plant exceeds the grazing height of deer, this control method is ineffective. It should be noted that as recently as the late 90s, Japanese honeysuckle was not considered to be part of a deer's diet, but by 2010 urban SW Ohio deer can be observed grazing on it with enthusiasm. Especially freshly cut honeysuckle stocks.

While manual removal is impractical on a large scale basis, mechanized removal using grinding heads on track loaders and particularly on track excavators is worth considering. The arm reach of 10-30'feet from a single position of a track excavator allows a much higher ratio of cleared area to disturbed ground when compared to use of a grinding head on a track loader. The ratio of ground disturbance between using grinding head on track loader verse excavator could be as high as 1:10. Some of the concerns about use of such large equipment also removing developing native species is likely to be further limited by use of a track loader due to its much more precise method of movement. In this regard, selection of an operator who is familiar with native species and has a good understanding of the holistic objective is likely to do far less damage to desirable natives than an operator who sees the job only as a selective land clearing initiative. Further and lastly, the track excavator compared to the track loader has the ability to reach into swales and onto embankments without physically entering the slope.


Lonicera japonica contains methyl caffeate, 3,4-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid, methyl 3,4-di-O-caffeoylquinate, protocatechuic acid, methyl chlorogenic acid and luteolin. These compounds have an inhibitory effect on human platelet aggregation that may explain the possible role of Japanese honeysuckle in maintaining vascular homeostasis.[10][11] The two biflavonoids, 3′-O-methyl loniflavone and loniflavone along with luteolin and chrysin can be isolated from the leaves.[12] Other phenolic compounds present in the plant are hyperoside, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid.[13]

The two secoiridoid glycosides, loniceracetalides A and B, can be isolated, together with 10 known iridoid glycosides, from the flower buds.[14]

The plant also contains the saponins loniceroside A and B[15] and the antiinflammatory loniceroside C.[16]

Traditional Chinese medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine,[17] Lonicera japonica is called rěn dōng téng (Chinese: 忍冬藤;[17] literally "winter enduring vine" ) or jīn yín huā[17] (Chinese: ; literally "gold silver flower"). Alternative Chinese names include er hua and shuang hua.[18] In Korean, it is called geumeunhwa. The dried leaves and flowers (Flos Lonicerae Japonicae) are employed in traditional Chinese medicine, being used to treat fever, headache, cough, thirst and sore throat.[19]


  1. "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  2. "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. Watts, D. C. (2007-05-02). Dictionary of Plant Lore. Academic Press. ISBN 9780080546025.
  4. Flora of Taiwan: Lonicera japonica
  5. Forest Plants of the Southeast and Their Wildlife Uses, James H. Miller and Karl V. Miller, University of Georgia Press, Revised Ed. 2005, p.278
  6. "RHS Plant Selector - Lonicera japonica var. repens". Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  7. "Lonicera japonicaJapanese honeysuckle".
  8. http://gencourt.state.nh.us/rules/agr3800.html
  9. Biosecurity New Zealand - Japanese honeysuckle
  10. Inhibition of platelet activation and endothelial cell injury by polyphenolic compounds isolated from Lonicera japonica Thunb. W.-C. Chang and F.-L. Hsu, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, Volume 45, Issue 4, April 1992, Pages 307–312, doi:10.1016/0952-3278(92)90088-Z
  11. Constituents from Lonicera japonica. Li-Yan Peng, Shuang-Xi Mei, Bei Jiang, Hong Zhou, Han-Dong Sun, Fitoterapia, Volume 71, Issue 6, December 2000, Pages 713–715, doi:10.1016/S0367-326X(00)00212-4
  12. Biflavonoids from Lonicera japonica. Neeraj Kumar, Bikram Singh, Pamita Bhandari, Ajai P. Gupta, Sanjay K. Uniyal and Vijay K. Kaul, Phytochemistry, December 2005, Volume 66, Issue 23, Pages 2740–2744, doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2005.10.002
  13. Determination of Phenolic Acids and Flavones in Lonicera japonica Thumb. by Capillary Electrophoresis with Electrochemical Detection. Youyuan Peng, Fanghua Liu and Jiannong Ye, Electroanalysis, March 2005, Volume 17, Issue 4, pages 356–362, doi:10.1002/elan.200403102
  14. Secoiridoid glycosides from the flower buds of Lonicera japonica. Rie Kakuda, Mio Imai, Yasunori Yaoita, Koichi Machida and Masao Kikuchi, Phytochemistry, December 2000, Volume 55, Issue 8, Pages 879–881, doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)00279-X
  15. Triterpenoid saponins from the aerial parts of Lonicera japonica. Kun Ho Son, Keun Young Jung, Hyeun Wook Chang, Hyun Pyo Kim and Sam Sik Kang, Phytochemistry, March 1994, Volume 35, Issue 4, Pages 1005–1008, doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)90656-3
  16. Loniceroside C, an Antiinflammatory Saponin from Lonicera japonica. Wie Jong Kwak, Chang Kyun Han, Hyeun Wook Chang, Hyun Pyo Kim, Sam Sik Kang and Kun Ho Son, Chem. Pharm. Bull., 2003, volume 51, issue 3, pages 333—335 (article)
  17. 1 2 3 Shang, X.; Pan, H.; Li, M.; Miao, X.; Ding, H. (2011). "Lonicera japonica Thunb.: Ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry and pharmacology of an important traditional Chinese medicine". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 138 (1): 1–21. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.08.016.
  18. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, John and Tina Chen, Art of Medicine Press, 1st ed. 2001, p. 171
  19. Bensky, Dan; Barolet, Randall. Chinese Herbal Medicine Formulas & Strategies (2nd ed.). Eastland Press. p. 44.
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