En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - April 24, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Source for non-native, invasive Winter Honeysuckle from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Seeing Lonicera abiflora today reminds me of the "winter honeysuckle" my grandfather grew in San Antonio from 1920s or so through the 1950's. It was a bush with stiff upright stems and bloomed creamy white, fragrant flowers before it leafed out in the spring. It had little water beyond rain and good drainage. I con't remember the leaf structure. The flowers (forgive my lack of botanical terms) looked like Japanese honeysuckle or even salvia with longish petals, but this was a bush. Have never seen it anywhere else. I grow mostly natives, but in memory of this beloved man who grew yellow iris (I have them from his garden),wisteria, yellow Banksia roses, Cecile Brunner roses (I grow them, too), loquats, figs, coral vine,and more. You're my best shot at finding "winter honeysuckle." Thanks as ever for all you do.


As you probably already know, the expertise of Mr. Smarty Plants is confined to plants native not only to North America but also to the area where the plant is being grown; in your case, Travis County, TX. Lonicera fragrantissima, Winter Honeysuckle is a shrub rather than a vine as are many of the other members of the Lonicera genus, and is native to China. As such, it would be of no use to you if we referred you to our native plant National Suppliers Directory. According to the Invasive Plant Atlas, it is evergreen in the South and can invade disturbed areas and woodlands, crowding out native plants. From that article:

"Sweet breath of spring (Lonicera fragrantissima) readily invades open woodlands, old fields and other disturbed sites. Its rapid spread is attributed to birds and mammals dispersing the seeds. It can form a dense understory thicket which can restrict native plant growth and tree seedling establishment."

Here is an article from Dave's Garden on Lonicera fragrantissima which has several negative comments on its invasiveness. At the top of that page, there is a link saying "8 vendors have this plant for sale." If you are that anxious to recover a memory from your grandfather's garden, you may find a mail order vendor for it, but remember, you were warned!



More Invasive Plants Questions

Identification of bushes with red berries in Tennessee
January 31, 2012 - I was recently traveling thru Clarksville, TN and saw these bushes (at the shopping mall) that had clusters of small red berries on them. They were not a Holly that I know of. The leaves were not th...
view the full question and answer

Reseeding a dead lawn in Wimberley TX
February 07, 2012 - Our new house had a sodded lawn that now appears dead. There remains a layer of sandy soil as a part of the sodding process. Is there a way to reseed these existing slabs of sod and what process wo...
view the full question and answer

Removal of thistles from Columbus TX
May 20, 2014 - I am sorry if you have an answer in FAQs but I could not find it. We recently cleared property near Columbus Texas of many cedars (ash junipers). This spring we experienced a profusion of thistle -...
view the full question and answer

Root barriers for invasive plant roots from neighbor in Austin
July 24, 2011 - My neighbor's invasive plantings are invading my yard. He has Chinese parasol, China berry, Japanese honeysuckle, privets, ligustrums and native Mustang grape vines planted so closely together they ...
view the full question and answer

Is a mulberry tree undesirable?
June 27, 2013 - I have a hard time keeping plants alive, so I was happy when a random plant just started growing and thriving about 5 years ago in my yard. My mom (a frequent volunteer at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildf...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center