Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Tatarian honeysuckle is a bushy, finely branched shrub (up to 3 m tall). Leaves are opposite, ovate to oblong (2.5-6 cm long and 1-3 cm wide), pinnately veined, with entire margins, obtuse to acute tips, and rounded to cuneate bases. Upper leaf surfaces are yellowish-green and glabrous, while the lower surfaces are paler and sparsely ciliate. Leaf attachment ranges from subsessile to having a petiole (2-8 mm long). Flowers are paired or in threes and are arranged in terminal or axillary cymes. The calyx is short and five-lobed. Lobes are triangular (up to 1 mm long). The corolla is tubular (11-18 mm long), bilabate, and white to pinkish. The upper lobe is divided into three or four segments, and the lower lip is undivided. The tube is glabrous outside and glabrous to sparsely pubescent inside. The five stamens are exerted and equal. The fruit is an orange to reddish-orange globose berry (5-7 mm wide) and is several-seeded. Seeds are oval, flattened, and yellow (2.7-3 mm long, 2-2.5 mm wide, and about 1 mm thick). The trunk has grayish-brown bark in long thin scales that do not readily shred. The wood is yellowish-brown with a pale sapwood that is usually hollow in the center. Branches are thin and flexible, brown to greenish-brown, and with a few light-colored lenticels.
Tatarian honeysuckle is a native of Eurasia where it is often used for shelterbelts, erosion control, and food and cover for wildlife. In Eurasia, it occupied lowlands, forests, swamps, and mountains. It was introduced to North America in 1752 for similar uses, as well as for ornamental purposes. It quickly spread to lake and river banks, marshes, roadsides, fencelines, pastures, and wooded hillsides. Tatarian honeysuckle grows in a wide variety of soils, soil moisture regimes, environmental conditions, and on all slope exposures. It can withstand periodic flooding, drought, and shade. It has been found in areas having temperature extremes of -50 to 45°C.
Tatarian honeysuckle flowers from late April through June, and fruits develop from July through September. Insects and hummingbirds are the primary pollinators. The fruits are readily distributed by birds such as robins, cardinals, catbirds, and other birds. Germination may occur from shortly after dispersal to several years later. Studies have suggested that stratification is important for germination and may be more important than digestive scarification. Seedlings establish most readily on open ground or in areas of sparse understory, but can also become established on late-successional sites.
Several widespread and dense populations of tatarian honeysuckle plants occur at Effigy Mounds National Monument (EFMO). They generally grow in patches and cover a total area of 11 to 50 hectares. The largest populations occur along the forest/road edge in the South Unit of the park. A few plants were also found in the North Unit. One of these, along the trail to Little Bear Mound, was marked with an interpretive sign. These plants are found in mid-successional sites that were disturbed between 11 and 50 years ago. They have the potential to invade and modify existing native plant communities. They may modify or retard the successional potential of the area by decreasing secondary successional plants. Tatarian honeysuckle has a major negative visual impact on the vegetation of EFMO.
Information on control of this species is limited, and some information is based on the closely related Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica Thunb.). Biological, chemical, and mechanical control methods have all been used on tatarian honeysuckle with varying levels of success. Important considerations are that the seeds remain viable for 2 or more years, and it has the capability of vegetative reproduction.
If desired vegetation is scarce or absent, control will be of little value. An alternative may be to follow control with seeding of desirable species. Most control methods harm other plants. The resulting disturbances favor reinvasion by tatarian honeysuckle or other exotic species.
Cutting, pulling, and hand grubbing will eliminate plants. Stumps must be chemically treated to prevent resprouting, or an annual mechanical retreatment will be necessary. Prescribed burning will control the current aboveground growth and kill some of the seeds, but it will not prevent resprouting. Underplanting shade tolerant species has been shown to reduce seedling establishment.
A few chemical control options exist for tatarian honeysuckle. Many herbicides are not specific to tatarian honeysuckle or may not be specifically labeled for this use. It is important to read and follow all label directions. Most literature on chemical control of honeysuckles concerns stump applications to control resprouting. For Japanese honeysuckle, fall applications of a mixture of 2,4-DP (dichlorprop) and 2,4-D with diesel basally applied and Roundup (glyphosate) as a foliar spray have been shown to provide excellent control. Fall or winter stump applications of Roundup mixed with water in 1:1 or 1:5 ratios have resulted in 89 to 94% control of resprouts of tatarian honeysuckle. Other herbicides with potential for controlling honeysuckles are Crossbow (triclopyr plus 2,4-D), Banvel (dicamba), Amitrol (amitrole), Acme Super Brush Killer (2,4-D plus 2,4-DP plus dicamba), Oust (sulfometuron methyl), and Velpar (hexazinone).
The aphid Hyadaphis tataricae (Aizenberg) [Homoptera:Aphididae] is specific to tatarian honeysuckle and may be a biological control agent. It originated in Europe and was apparently introduced into the United States in the mid-1970s. It feeds on the newly emerging branches, thus damaging the tips and forming what is often called "witch's brooms". This lowers plant vigor and may prevent flowering and fruit development. European literature indicates that heavy infestations will kill tatarian honeysuckle, however death has not been reported in the United States. The range of this insect species is currently expanding and may eventually reach levels that will provide control.
Barden, L.S. 1982. Effects of prescribed fire on honeysuckle and other ground flora. Restoration and Management Notes. 1:20, Number 127. Boisvert, J.M., C. Cloutier, and J. McNeil. 1981. Hyadaphis tataricae (Homoptera:Aphididae), a pest of honeysuckle new to North America. Canadian Entomologist 113:415-418. Converse, C.K. 1987. Element stewardship abstract for Lonicera tatarica - tatarian honeysuckle, Lonicera morrowii - Morrow's honeysuckle, Lonicera X bella (L. tatarica X L. morrowii) - belle honeysuckle. The Nature Conservancy. Minneapolis. 8 p. Foster, R., E. Knake, R.H. McCarty, J.J. Mortvedt, and L. Murphy (eds.). 1994. Weed control manual. Meister Publishing Company, Willoughby, Ohio. 362 p. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University of Kansas Press. Lawrence. 1392 p. Henderson, R., and E. Howell. 1981. Time and cost figures for honeysuckle control in a disturbed Wisconsin forest. Restoration and Management Notes 1:18, Number 32. Kline, V. 1981. Control of honeysuckle and buckthorn in oak forest. Restoration and Management Notes 1:18, Number 31. Regehr, D.L., and D.R. Frey. 1988. Selective control of Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). Weed Technology 2:139-143. Stephens, H.A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. University Press of Kansas. Lawrence. 530 p. Stransky, J.J. 1984. Forage yield of Japanese honeysuckle after repeated burning or mowing. Journal of Range Management 73:237-238. Voegtlin, D. 1983. Tatarian honeysuckle aphid: Possible role in control of its escaped host. Restoration and Management Notes 1:27, Number 215.