Get to Know Invasive Honeysuckle

Invasive Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)

Honeysuckles are arching shrubs or twining vines in the family Caprifoliaceae. Approximately 180 species of honeysuckle have been identified in North America and Eurasia. Honeysuckles form dense thickets and reproduce aggressively, shading out other plants and disrupting ecosystems in forest preserves and other natural areas, according to the Chicago Region Trees Initiative. In woodlands, honeysuckle can completely replace young trees and understory plants, including native wildflowers. Unfortunately, they are also commonly used in residential landscaping. Rather than plant invasive honeysuckle in your backyard or landscapes consider using native shrubs that can be planted to replace invasive hedges such as honeysuckle and buckthorn. Click here a comprehensive replacement list for invasive woody plants. 

Friends of the Chicago River works with the Forest Preserves of Cook County and other partners to remove invasive and nuisance plant species such as honeysuckle and buckthorn to begin returning these areas to ecosystems composed of a diversity of native plants and wildlife. Removing honeysuckle and other invasive species allows sunlight to reach the ground and in turn, native species to flourish again. Unlike invasive species, native plants have deep root systems which enable greater stormwater infiltration. By holding stormwater instead of having quick runoff, we see less erosion and higher water quality for people, plants, and animals.

At Wampum Lake, Friends of the Chicago River cleared honeysuckle and other invasive plants to improve turtle nesting habitat. Turtles nest in drier open areas with extensive sunlight and minimal understory vegetation. By clearing honeysuckle and other woody invasive species, female turtles have more options of areas to nest and their nests experience less predation. Habitat improvement has resulted in a 60% increase in turtle nesting success.