Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's Honeysuckle)
|Also known as:|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; disturbed soil; fields, fence rows, forests, woodland edges, thickets, landscape plantings|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||5 to 12 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Pairs of irregular flowers arising from leaf axils all along first year branches. Flowers are white, ¾ to 1 inch long, with a slender tube and 2 lips, the upper lip with 4 erect lobes that become spreading with age, the lower lip reflexed down, about as long as the upper, and both longer than the floral tube. Outer surfaces are hairy, especially the tube. Protruding from the tube are 5 yellow-tipped stamens and a slender, white style with a green, dome-shaped stigma at the tip. Flowers turn dull, pale yellow as they wither.
The floral tube is slightly swollen on one side near the base. At the base of the tube is a green, egg-shaped ovary with 5 lance-oblong lobes at the tip. The pair of flowers sits at the tip of a hairy stalk up to ¾ inch long with a pair of leaf-like bracts between the stalk and ovary. The bracts are lance-oblong, spreading, hairy, and usually longer than the ovary. At the base of each ovary is a second bract (bracteole) that is oval to egg-shaped, sparsely hairy along the edges, and half or more as long as the ovary at anthesis.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are opposite, 1 to 2 inches long, ½ to 1 inch wide, narrowly egg-shaped to oblong-elliptic, widest at or below the middle, blunt or pointed at the tip, rounded to straight across to somewhat heart-shaped at the base, with a short, hairy stalk. Edges are toothless with a fringe of fine hairs. Color is green to blue-green.
The upper surface is finely hairy, the lower hairy especially along the veins. Twigs are green to gray, finely hairy, and hollow with a brown pith. Older bark is gray and often peeling in strips. Stems are multiple from the base and many-branched, branching from the base.
Morrow's Honeysuckle is one of four exotic invasive Honeysuckles to grace our landscape. Of these four, the key distinguishing characteristics of Morrow's are the combination of: flowers and fruits at the end of a long stalk, and hairy leaves, stems and bracts. By comparison, Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) also has white flowers and hairy leaves, but the leaves taper to a pointed tip (acuminate) and flowers and fruits are stalkless or nearly so. Tatarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) is hairless and usually has pink flowers, occasionally white, the flowers do not turn yellowish as they wither, and the bracteole at the base of the ovary is half or less as long as the ovary at anthesis. Showy Honeysuckle (Lonicera ×bella) is a cultivated, fertile hybrid between L. tatarica and L. morrowii, is more sparsely hairy and has pink to white flowers.
All of these exotic Honeysuckles are problematic in natural areas. They can create dense thickets, they leaf out early and stay leafed out later than most other shrubs, all of which robs sunlight, moisture and nutrients from other plants in the understory. Birds eat the fruits and easily spread the seeds to new locations. The exotics are fairly easy to distinguish from the MN native Lonicera species: most natives are vines not shrubs, the native shrubs do not have the vigor or stature of the exotics, nor do they have pink or white flowers, and the twigs are solid where the exotics are hollow.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Morrow's Honeysuckle shrub
- Morrow's Honeysuckle shrub
- flowering branches
- hairs on leaf underside
- flowers turn dull pale yellow as they wither
- exotic Honeysuckles have hollow twigs with brown pith
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Chisago and Houston counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?