Explore Plants

Share

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
    
 

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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 Shrubs Questions

Evergreen flowering shrub for San Antonio, TX
May 20, 2013 - Need a suggestion for an evergreen flowering bush, 3 ft tall for shady area by front door. Have gardenia bushes there now - did well until we had a hard freeze and have struggled ever since. Ideas ple...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of invasiveness of blackberry bush
March 27, 2008 - I bought a blackberry bush from Home Depot last year. My sister said if I planted it in the ground it would take over my lawn. So I put it in a big planter up against my fence, but I'd like to put it...
view the full question and answer

Native shrubs for wildlife santuary in Georgia
March 27, 2009 - We live south of Atlanta, GA and are trying to have our backyard certified as a Wildlife Sanctuary. Can you suggest native shrubs that thrive in partial sun, are habitats for bird and are deer resist...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen for privacy screen in Northern California
October 19, 2012 - Hello, My neighbor just logged their property and we need a very quick growing evergreen shrub/tree (for privacy of ugly cabin) that grows to at least 10' -15' tall. We live in northern Cal. about ...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for house landscaping in Virginia
September 01, 2009 - I would like suggestions for types of shrubs to be planted in front of my house.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.