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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - November 21, 2004

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Invasiveness of non-native Lonicera fragrantissima in Austin
Answered by: Stephen Brueggerhoff and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

A couple of years ago I mistakenly bought Lonicera fragrantissima (winter bush honeysuckle), thinking it was native. I have since discovered that it is native to China and considered invasive in at least some parts of the U.S. Is it invasive here like Lonicera japonica? Should I remove it? Are birds likely to transport the seed to where it is more invasive?

ANSWER:

Several states that are members of the Southeast Exotic Pest Plants Council (SE-EPPC) rank Lonicera fragrantissima as invasive. Tennessee gives it a Rank 1 status. Rank 1 indicates a "Severe Threat", i.e., an "exotic plant species that possess characteristics of invasive species and spread easily into native plant communities and displace native vegetation; includes species that are or could become widespread in Tennessee". South Carolina and Virginia list it as a C-ranked species which "generally do not affect ecosystem processes but may alter plant community composition by out-competing one or more native plant species. They often establish in severely disturbed areas. The disturbance may be natural or human origin, such as ice-storm damage, wind-throw, or road construction. These species spread slowly or not at all from disturbed sites."

You can see its taxonomy with distribution maps at the USDA Plants Database. You can see descriptions and suggested control measures for Lonicera fragrantissima and other bush honeysuckles provided by the National Park Service and U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the USDA Forest Service, and the Plant Conservation Alliance.
 

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