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Lonicera japonica

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Lonicera japonica
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Genus: Lonicera
L. japonica
Binomial name
Lonicera japonica
  • Caprifolium chinense S.Watson ex Loudon
  • Caprifolium japonicum (Thunb.) Dum.Cours.
  • Caprifolium roseum Lam.
  • Lonicera brachypoda Siebold
  • Lonicera chinensis P. Watson
  • Lonicera fauriei H. Lév. & Vaniot
  • Lonicera shintenensis Hayata

Lonicera japonica, known as Japanese honeysuckle[2] and golden-and-silver honeysuckle,[3] is a species of honeysuckle native to East Asia, including many parts of China. It is often grown as an ornamental plant, but has become an invasive species in a number of countries. Japanese honeysuckle is used in traditional Chinese medicine.


Lonicera japonica is a twining vine[4] able to climb up to 10 m (33 ft) high or more in trees, with opposite, simple oval leaves 3–8 cm (1.2–3.1 in) long and 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) broad. When its stems are young, they are slightly red in color and may be fuzzy. Older stems are brown with peeling bark, and are often hollow on the inside.[5]

The flowers are double-tongued, opening white and fading to yellow, and sweetly vanilla scented. The fruit, which is produced in fall,[5] is a black spherical berry 3–4 mm (0.12–0.16 in) diameter containing a few seeds.[6] While the nectar from the flowers can be safely consumed by humans, all other parts of the plant have the potential to be toxic.[7]


There are three subspecies of Lonicera japonica:

Image Subspecies Description Distribution
Lonicera japonica var. chinensis (P.Watson) Baker Corolla purple outside, white inside. Usually diploid 2n=18 China (Anhui, 安徽省 in Chinese) around 800 meters[8]
Lonicera japonica var. japonica Vigorous vine, Corolla white, later yellow-white. Usually diploid 2n=18 Grows on the edge of forest in China, Japan, and Korea[9]
Lonicera japonica var. miyagusukiana Makino Tetraploid with chromosome number of 2n=36 Found in tops of exposed windy limestone cliffs in Ryukyus Islands, Japan[10]

Cultivation, management, and uses[edit]

Even though it is a highly invasive and destructive plant,[11] this species is often sold by American nurseries as the cultivar 'Hall's Prolific' (Lonicera japonica var. halliana),[citation needed] and in the UK as the cultivar 'Halliana'. The cultivar is also known as Hall's Japanese honeysuckle.[12] It is an effective groundcover and has strong-smelling flowers. It can be cultivated by seed, cuttings, or layering. In addition, it will spread itself via shoots if given enough space to grow. The variety L. japonica var. repens[13] has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[14]

Japanese honeysuckle flowers are edible to humans and appreciated for their sweet-tasting nectar. The flowers can also be a significant source of food for deer, rabbits, hummingbirds, and other wildlife.[15]

Herbal medicine[edit]

In traditional Chinese medicine,[16] Lonicera japonica is called rěn dōng téng (忍冬);[16] literally "winter enduring vine") or jīn yín huā[16] (Chinese: ; literally "gold-silver flower", in reference to the presence of flowers of different age on the same plant as each flower change from white (silver) to yellow (gold)).[citation needed] Alternative Chinese names include er hua (二花) and shuang hua (雙花), meaning double-[color] flowers.[17]

The dried leaves and flowers (Flos Lonicerae Japonicae) are employed in traditional Chinese medicine, where they are believed to be of use to treat fever, cold-related headache, cough, thirst, certain inflammation including sore throat, skin infection, and tumor necrosis.[18]

Antiviral action[edit]

The antiviral action of loniflavone, a compound found in Lonicera japonica, has been investigated in computational studies, in which the ability of this compound to bind with high affinity to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 has been demonstrated, an early step towards drug development for the disease caused by that virus.[19]

As an invasive species[edit]

Japanese honeysuckle has become naturalized in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, and much of the US, including Hawaii, as well as a number of Pacific and Caribbean islands. It is classified as a noxious weed in Texas,[20] Illinois, and Virginia, and is banned in Indiana[21] and New Hampshire.[22] It is listed on the New Zealand National Pest Plant Accord as an unwanted organism.[23]

Lonicera japonica was initially brought to the United States from Japan in the early 1800s as an ornamental plant. It is still deliberately planted in the United States for reasons such as erosion control or forage for deer, but has become invasive in many areas.[5] It prefers to invade areas that have been disturbed, such as roadsides or floodplains. It will generally only invade forests when the canopy has been opened by logging or fallen trees, as it grows less vigorously in the shade.[24] Once it has invaded an area, Lonicera japonica grows rapidly and outcompetes native plants for sunlight and nutrients.[5] It proliferates using both sexual and vegetative reproduction, producing seeds that are spread by animals and expanding locally via rhizomes.[25] Eventually, it will form a dense thicket which prevents other plant species from germinating in that area.[5] Due to its suppression of germination in the understory, Lonicera japonica also prevents the regeneration of trees.[26]

A large patch of Japanese honeysuckle is growing on top of other plants.
Lonicera japonica's rapid growth allows it to outcompete other plants in the areas it invades.

Management of invasive Lonicera japonica has been achieved through a variety of means. Small patches can be removed by hand, or using simple digging tools,[25] but all plant parts including roots and rhizomes must be removed to prevent resprouting.[5] Larger patches can be removed through repeated mowing, but application of herbicide is also recommended to prevent regrowth.[25] There has been some study of using controlled burns to remove Lonicera japonica, but the underground portion of the plant is usually able to survive and resprout, limiting the effectiveness of this method.[5] Browsing by herbivores may limit its growth, but is unlikely to fully eliminate it.[26]

Biological control[edit]

The EPA of New Zealand approved the release of Limenitis glorifica butterflies in 2013 as a biological control for Lonicera japonica. This butterfly is host specific for Japanese honeysuckle, but it may incidentally feed on other closely related plants, including Himalayan honeysuckle Leycesteria formosa.[27] Oberea shirahatai is a Japanese honeysuckle host-specific beetle that feeds on the stems and leaves of Japanese honeysuckle. It was released in New Zealand in 2018 as another L. japonica-specialist biological control.[28]


Lonicera japonica contains methyl caffeate, 3,4-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid, methyl 3,4-di-O-caffeoylquinate, protocatechuic acid, methyl chlorogenic acid, and luteolin. The two biflavonoids, 3′-O-methyl loniflavone and loniflavone, along with luteolin and chrysin, can be isolated from the leaves.[29] Other phenolic compounds present in the plant are hyperoside, chlorogenic acid, and caffeic acid.[30] The two secoiridoid glycosides, loniceracetalides A and B, can be isolated, together with 10 known iridoid glycosides, from the flower buds.[31] The plant also contains the saponins loniceroside A and B[32] and the anti-inflammatory loniceroside C.[33]


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  2. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 525. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2017 – via Korea Forest Service.
  4. ^ Watts, D. C. (2007-05-02). Dictionary of Plant Lore. Academic Press. ISBN 9780080546025.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Lonicera japonica – UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants". plants.ifas.ufl.edu. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  6. ^ "Flora of Taiwan: Lonicera japonica". Archived from the original on 2006-07-18. Retrieved 2006-06-18.
  7. ^ "Lonicera japonica (Hall's Honeysuckle, Japanese Honeysuckle) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox". plants.ces.ncsu.edu. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  8. ^ "Lonicera japonica var. chinensis in Flora of China @ efloras.org". eFloras.org Home. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  9. ^ "Lonicera japonica var. japonica in Flora of China @ efloras.org". eFloras.org Home. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  10. ^ Denda, Tetsuo; Koja, Arisa; Yokota, Masatsugu (2007). "Chromosomal studies of insular endemicLonicera japonicaThunb. var.miyagusukianaMakino (Caprifoliaceae) in the Ryukyu Archipelago of Japan". Caryologia. 60 (4). Informa UK Limited: 331–337. doi:10.1080/00087114.2007.10797956. ISSN 0008-7114.
  11. ^ "Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)".
  12. ^ "Lonicera japonica 'Halliana'". Plants. Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  13. ^ "RHS Plant Selector – Lonicera japonica var. repens". Archived from the original on 24 December 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  14. ^ "AGM Plants – Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 61. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  15. ^ Forest Plants of the Southeast and Their Wildlife Uses, James H. Miller and Karl V. Miller, University of Georgia Press, Revised Ed. 2005, p.278
  16. ^ a b c Shang, X.; Pan, H.; Li, M.; Miao, X.; Ding, H. (2011). "Lonicera japonica Thunb.: Ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry and pharmacology of an important traditional Chinese medicine". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 138 (1): 1–21. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.08.016. PMC 7127058. PMID 21864666.
  17. ^ Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, John and Tina Chen, Art of Medicine Press, 1st ed. 2001, p. 171
  18. ^ Bensky, Dan; Barolet, Randall. Chinese Herbal Medicine Formulas & Strategies (2nd ed.). Eastland Press. p. 44.
  19. ^ Kadioglu, Onat; Saeed, Mohamed; Greten, Henry Johannes; Efferth, Thomas (June 2021). "Identification of novel compounds against three targets of SARS CoV-2 coronavirus by combined virtual screening and supervised machine learning". Computers in Biology and Medicine. 133: 104359. doi:10.1016/j.compbiomed.2021.104359. PMC 8008812. PMID 33845270.
  20. ^ "Lonicera japonicaJapanese honeysuckle".
  21. ^ "DNR: Terrestrial Invasive Species - Plants". Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  22. ^ "Fact Sheet: Prohibited Invasive Plant Species Rules, Agr 3800". Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Species list" (PDF). Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  24. ^ "Maine Natural Areas Program, Invasive Plants, Japanese Honeysuckle". www.maine.gov. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  25. ^ a b c "Lonicera japonicaJapanese honeysuckle".
  26. ^ a b "Species: Lonicera japonica". www.fs.fed.us. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  27. ^ www.epa.govt.nz https://www.epa.govt.nz/assets/FileAPI/hsno-ar/APP201710/0fbd280326/APP201710-APP201710-EPA-Advice-Document-FINAL.pdf. Retrieved 2024-06-08. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ "Japanese honeysuckle stem beetle". Manaaki Whenua. Retrieved 2024-06-08.
  29. ^ Kumar, Neeraj; Singh, Bikram; Bhandari, Pamita; Gupta, Ajai P.; Uniyal, Sanjay K.; Kaul, Vijay K. (2005). "Biflavonoids from Lonicera japonica". Phytochemistry. 66 (23): 2740–4. Bibcode:2005PChem..66.2740K. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2005.10.002. PMID 16293275.
  30. ^ Peng, Youyuan; Liu, Fanghua; Ye, Jiannong (2005). "Determination of Phenolic Acids and Flavones in Lonicera japonica Thumb. By Capillary Electrophoresis with Electrochemical Detection". Electroanalysis. 17 (4): 356. doi:10.1002/elan.200403102.
  31. ^ Kakuda, Rie; Imai, Mio; Yaoita, Yasunori; Machida, Koichi; Kikuchi, Masao (2000). "Secoiridoid glycosides from the flower buds of Lonicera japonica". Phytochemistry. 55 (8): 879–81. Bibcode:2000PChem..55..879K. doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)00279-X. PMID 11140518.
  32. ^ Ho Son, Kun; Young Jung, Keun; Wook Chang, Hyeun; Pyo Kim, Hyun; Sik Kang, Sam (1994). "Triterpenoid saponins from the aerial parts of Lonicera japonica". Phytochemistry. 35 (4): 1005–8. Bibcode:1994PChem..35.1005H. doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)90656-3. PMID 7764625.
  33. ^ Kwak, Wie Jong; Han, Chang Kyun; Chang, Hyeun Wook; Kim, Hyun Pyo; Kang, Sam Sik; Son, Kun Ho (2003). "Loniceroside C, an Anti-inflammatory Saponin from Lonicera japonica". Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 51 (3): 333–5. doi:10.1248/cpb.51.333. PMID 12612424.