What is a Honeysuckle Shrub?

Niki Foster
Niki Foster

A honeysuckle shrub is a plant of the Lonicera genus. Some honeysuckle plants are vines rather than shrubs. There are 100 species of honeysuckle in China, about 20 species native to Europe, about 20 native to North America, and about 40 honeysuckle species native to other areas of the Northern hemisphere. Most honeysuckle plants are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves seasonally, while some are evergreen, meaning they have leaves year-round.

There are 100 species of honeysuckle in China.
There are 100 species of honeysuckle in China.

Honeysuckles have small oval leaves, sweet-smelling bell-shaped flowers, and small, round berries that are often slightly poisonous. The nectar of the flowers is edible and attracts hummingbirds and some caterpillars. Many species of honeysuckle shrub are grown as ornamental plants.

Some caterpillars feed on honeysuckle shrubs.
Some caterpillars feed on honeysuckle shrubs.

Blue-berried honeysuckle (L. caerulea), also called sweetberry honeysuckle, is one of the few types of honeysuckle to feature edible berries. It is native throughout the Northern hemisphere, with varieties in Asia, North America, and Europe. Orange honeysuckle (L. ciliosa), a deciduous honeysuckle shrub native to western North American forests, also has edible berries, though they are rarely eaten. Orange honeysuckle features whorls or orange flowers and bright red berries.

Amur or bush honeysuckle (L. maackii) is a shrub native to parts of China, Japan, Mongolia, and Russia. It is classified as an endangered species in Japan but has become invasive in the United States. It has white to light orange flowers that grow in pairs and red to black berries. Amur honeysuckle can form dense thickets. However, it is a popular ornamental plant and has cultivars with different colored flowers.

Many Asian species of honeysuckle that were introduced to the United States as ornamental plants have since become invasive species. Examples include Morrow's honeysuckle (L. morrowii), with white to yellow flowers and dark red berries, and Tatarian honeysuckle (L. tatarica), with pink to red flowers and orange or red fruit. Boxleaf honeysuckle (L. nitida) is native to China and has white flowers and dark red fruit. It is hardy and popular as a hedge. Privet honeysuckle (L. pileata), also native to China, features white flowers and purple berries and can retain its leaves in a mild winter.

European honeysuckle species include fly honeysuckle (L. xylosteum), the only honeysuckle shrub native to Britain, and Alpine honeysuckle (L. alpigena), a deciduous honeysuckle shrub native to the mountain forests of Southern and Central Europe. Alpine honeysuckle features bright red berries in the summer, though they are not edible.

Chaparral honeysuckle (L. interrupta) grows in parts of California and Arizona. It is a hardy shrub with pink flowers and red berries. Southern honeysuckle (L. subspicata), another chaparral species that grows only in California, has yellow flowers and a small red or yellow berry. The purple honeysuckle (L. conjugialis) is a honeysuckle shrub also native to western North America that features pairs of deep purple flowers, red fruit, and slightly hairy leaves. The bearberry or twinberry honeysuckle (L. involucrata) is also native to the same area and has hairy yellow flowers and black berries.

Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In addition to her role as a wiseGEEK editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

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Discussion Comments


Honeysuckles are great plants for attracting hummingbirds. All that they need to really thrive is something to grow on (like a fence or a post), and you are all set for growing honeysuckle! The hummingbirds will be attracted to the sweet smell of the flowers and hover around drinking the nectar as long as the plants are in bloom.

Anyone looking for a beautiful and natural way to attract hummingbirds to their yards should definitely plant a little honeysuckle around their home.


I live in the south, and one of the greatest things that I look forward to each summer is the smell of the honeysuckle bushes. It is such a sweet smell that it is completely unmistakable.

The children in the area are known to pick the cute little flowers off and suck the nectar right out of the back. They are really pretty, too. I’m not sure of the proper title for the ones that we have, but they are vines with yellow blooms.

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