Flora and fauna of the Athens County area, and occasionally habitats outside Ohio. Subject matter will consist of both interpretive material and taxonomic issues in plant and animal identification.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
In our continuing battle with exotic invasive species, there are 3 honeysuckle shrubs that add to the problem. Once widely planted, their spread has proved difficult to control. Birds have discovered the fruit, and the seeds have been distributed into unwanted locations. All three look similar to the above pictures, but with close examination can be readily separated.
1a) Leaves broadly egg shaped ending in a long fine tip.... Amur Honeysuckle, Lonicera maackii (above)
1b) Leaves shorter, blunter, more oval, without a long tip...2 (below)
2a) New growth twigs tomentose, covered in hairs...Morrow's Honeysuckle, Lonicera morrowii
2b) New growth twigs glabrous, smooth and hairless...Tatarian Honeysuckle, Lonicera tataria
All these honeysuckles have opposite simple leaves with entire margins (no teeth). The flowers and fruit are arranged in pairs. Amur Honeysuckle flowers are white and yellow, similar to Japanese Honeysuckle.
Each of these honeysuckles produce red berries. There are very subtle differences in the stalks. Amur is said to have fruit stalks less than a quarter inch, while the others are a quarter inch or greater. I see no reason to try and measure such a difference when the leaves make identification of this species certain.
Tatarian Honeysuckle, (often misspelled with an extra r as in Tartarian), is best identified by feeling the new growth twigs, they are hairless. Tatarian flowers range from white to pink.
The fruit of Morrow's Honeysuckle looks identical to Tatarian.
Morrow's and Tatarian can both have plants with either red or orange fruit.
When in doubt, examine the twigs. Morrow's will be hairy throughout the new growth and into the leaf petioles. (from 2a)
The flowers range from white to a creamy yellow.
Just when you feel you have these three down pat, along comes a hairy plant with pink flowers. I posted this back in the spring, and am still not sure what this is. Everything points to the Tatarian-Morrow hybrid, Bell's Honeysuckle, Lonicera x bella. So yes, they hybridize, great.
One other thing you should always check. Clip the branch in half and look inside. These exotics all have hollow centers (piths). Similar looking native shrubs are solid inside.
This summer I observed a Morrow's Honeysuckle with wrinkled deformed leaves, many of which were dead. Has a virus found its way to these plants? One could only hope. It looks similar to what I've seen attacking Multi-flora Rose lately. All natural resource agencies know these honeysuckle species are being discouraged, yet I still see many gardeners on line selling them. Guess it's all about the money.