Lonicera tatarica (Tatarian Honeysuckle)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Lonicera
Family:Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Origin:Eurasia
Status:
  • Invasive - ERADICATE!
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soil; fields, fence rows, forests, woodland edges, thickets, landscape plantings
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:5 to 10 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular

[photo of flowers] Pairs of irregular flowers arising from leaf axils all along first year branches. Flowers are deep rosy to light pink, sometimes white, ¾ to 1 inch long, with a slender tube and 2 lips, the upper lip with 4 lobes, the middle 2 erect and fused near the base, the lateral lobes spreading; the lower lip is reflexed down, slightly longer than the upper, and both longer than the floral tube. Outer surfaces are hairless. Protruding from the tube are 5 yellow-tipped stamens and a slender, white style with a green, dome-shaped stigma at the tip.

[photo of flower stalk and bracts] 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 hairless stalk up to about 1 inch long with a pair of leaf-like bracts between the stalk and ovary. The bracts are lance-oblong, spreading, hairless, and longer or shorter than the ovary. At the base of each ovary is a second bract (bracteole) that is oval to egg-shaped, hairless, and half or less as long as the ovary at anthesis.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are opposite, 1 to 2½ inches long, ½ to 1 inch wide, egg-shaped to lance-oblong, 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, hairless stalk. Surfaces are hairless, edges are toothless, sometimes with scattered hairs around the edge. Color is green to blue-green.

[photo of peeling bark] Twigs are green to brown, hairless, and hollow with a brown pith. Older bark is gray and often peeling in strips. Stems are multiple from the base and many-branched, often forming dense thickets.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a bright red, shiny, round berry, ¼ to 1/3 inch in diameter, containing a few seeds.

Notes:

Tatarian Honeysuckle is one of four exotic invasive Honeysuckles to grace our landscape. Of these four, the key distinguishing characteristics of Tatarian are the combination of: usually pink flowers, flowers and fruits at the end of a long stalk, and leaves, stems, stalks and bracts are hairless or at most have just a few hairs. By comparison, Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and Morrow's Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii) have hairy leaves and white flowers that fade to yellowish as they wither, and the bracteoles on Morrow's are half or more as long as the ovary at anthesis where Tatarian bracteoles are half or less. Showy Honeysuckle (Lonicera ×bella) is a cultivated, fertile hybrid between L. tatarica and L. morrowii, usually has at least some hairs on leaves and bracts, and its flowers fade to yellowish as they wither, where L. tatarica flowers do not. The hybrid is actually more common than either parent and is often mistaken for one of them, L. tatarica in particular.

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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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Chisago and Roseau counties.

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