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Wisconsin Plant of the Week

Lonicera X bella Zabel

Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Common Name:

Bellís honeysuckle


Bellís honeysuckle is an introduced and ecologically invasive shrub that grows to 6m in disturbed thickets and along roadsides.  It prefers uplands, where itís been a popular landscape plant, but also tolerates moist soil and is common at the wetland edge.

Honeysuckles are easy shrubs to recognize by their opposite leaves and the flowers (and fruit ) which occur in pairs.  Leaves are opposite and either oblong or egg-shaped, 3 to 6 cm long and with smooth edges. The flowers bloom in May and June on long stalks growing in the axils of the leaves. The flowers are tubular, up to 2 cm across, with five lobes, and have 5 stamens inserted on the corolla tube. The sweet nectar that collects at the base of the tube gives the plant its common name.  Orange to bright red berries with a few seeds are ripe by July.

Bellís honeysuckle is a fertile hybrid between two other invasive species -- Tartarian honeysuckle (L. tatarica) and Morrows honeysuckle (L. morrowii). The hybrid grows taller than either parent and appears to be more widespread.  All three honeysuckles are similar in growth form, leaf and flower shape.  L. tatarica is completely smooth, with either white or pink but never yellow flowers.  L. morowii and L.Xbella are downy on the underside of the leaves and on new twigs.  Flowers on Bellís honeysuckle start out pink and gradually turn yellow.  Flowers on Morrows honeysuckle turn from white to yellow.

Not all honeysuckles in Wisconsin are invasive.  The invasive ones are easy to recognize since theyíre all shrubs with brown pith on vigorous twigs, and the stems are hollow between the nodes.  Native species are either vines or shrubs with white pith thatís continuous along the twig. The fruit of native species is dark red to black.

More info on the invasive honeysuckles and control measures are described in the WDNR Invasive Species Factsheet

  • Origin of the name: Lonicera, for Adam Lonitzer, a 16th c. German botanist
  • Range:  native to Asia; now also throughout most of eastern N. Amer.
  • WI Range:  Statewide
  • Common associates: Common buckthorn, gray dogwood
  • Wetland Indicator Status: (FACU)
  • Coefficient of Conservatism: C = * (S&W), C = * (MI)
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