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Bell's honeysuckle

(Lonicera x bella)

Photo of Bell's Honeysuckle
Photo credit: Merel R. Black, Flora of Wisconsin

Dense, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub that grows up to 20’ tall. Young stems are slightly hairy and light brown while older stems may have shaggy, peeling bark and are often hollow between the nodes. The best way to identify the hybrids is to learn the characteristics of the parents, then look for intermediate characteristics. Bell’s honeysuckle is generally taller than Morrow’s honeysuckle and Tatarian honeysuckle.

Overview map of Bell's honeysuckle classification in WI
Restricted (orange) counties

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: Showy bush honeysuckle, bella honeysuckle.
  • Scientific names: Lonicera x bella forma albida.

Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted

Ecological Threat
  • It invades a broad range of habitats, including forest edges, open woods, fens, bogs, lakeshores, roadsides, pastures and old fields.
  • They alter habitats by decreasing light availability, depleting soil moisture and nutrients and possibly releasing allelopathic chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants.
  • Eurasian bush honeysuckles have been widely planted as ornamentals and for wildlife habitat. Commercial propagation continues with many cultivars available from nurseries.
  • Can create a “hybrid swarm” by crossing with the parent plants (L. morrowii and L. tatarica).

Leaves: Opposite, oval or oblong and untoothed. Leaves may be hairless to downy and green or blue-green. Leaf bases are rounded. Compared to native trees and shrubs, leaves come on 1 to 2 weeks earlier in spring and stay on later in fall.

Flowers: Fragrant, tubular and arranged in pairs at leaf axils. Generally pink and fading to yellow with age, but can vary. The outside of the corolla is smooth. Bloom mid- to late spring.

Fruits & seeds: Red to orange berries occur in pairs at leaf axils and contain many seeds. Readily dispersed by birds.

Roots: Fibrous and shallow.

Similar species: L. morrowii, L. tatarica, and L. maackii are also invasive bush honeysuckles. They are all very similar except for slight differences in flower color and leaf downiness.

Native Lonicera shrubs have shorter, sparser growth forms and white pith in stems. Native Diervilla species have yellow flowers that turn red with age, fruits that are elongated capsules and grow in dry or rocky sites. Native species develop leaves 1-2 weeks later, drop them earlier in the fall and often have solid stems.

Mechanical:Small to medium-sized plants can be dug or pulled by hand or with a leverage tool. Prescribed burns in spring kill seedlings and top kills older plants.


Chemical: Cut-stump treatment with glyphosate; cut-stump treatment or basal bark treatment around each stem of the plant with triclopyr ester. Treat foliage with glyphosate in early spring prior to leaf out of native species.

For more information on control techniques, visit the Bush honeysuckles factsheet [exit DNR] by the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Sources for content:
  • Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 32-35
  • Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health: Bell's honeysuckle [exit DNR].
  • Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Bell's honeysuckle [exit DNR] (Lonicera x bella).
Links for more information: