July 21, 2017

Not So Sweet

Lonicera morrowii - Morrow's honeysuckle

Lonicera morrowii - Morrow's honeysuckle | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Just the word honeysuckle conjures up something sweet. And if you’ve ever smelled an old-fashioned honeysuckle vine, then there is nothing quite like the fragrant blooms, especially in the cool of the evening. With scores of honeysuckle varieties the world over, it is no surprise that non-native varieties found their way to America, much like Lonicera morrowii, which came to the States from Japan in the 1860s with Dr. James Morrow (hence the name). Unfortunately, Morrow’s honeysuckle, also called bush honeysuckle, is now considered an invasive species in every New England state except Maine and is even banned in all but Maine and Rhode Island. It spreads easily in the understorey of the forest – birds love the berries it produces. Each multi-stemmed shrub can reach up to 8 feet in height and can establish a thicket that forces out other forms of plant life. Interestingly, the scent isn’t so sweet: GoBotany says there is little odor or it has a repellant quality.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.