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Lonicera tatarica

Lonicera tatarica

Lonicera tatarica is a species of honeysuckle known by the common name Tatarian honeysuckle.[2] It is native to Siberia and other parts of eastern Asia (the majority of this species found in China)[3] Lonicera tatarica is also known to grow in the Himalayas, however it is better known in North America as a widespread introduced species and noxious weed. Honeysuckles are native to temperate zones of both hemispheres. This plant, one of several exotic bush honeysuckles present in North America,[4] was introduced as an ornamental plant in 1752.[5] It is known across the continent west to Alaska and California, where it easily grows in disturbed habitat.

Lonicera tatarica
Naturalized near Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Genus: Lonicera
L. tatarica
Binomial name
Lonicera tatarica
  • Caprifolium tataricum (L.) Kuntze
  • Chamaecerasus tatarica (L.) Medik.
  • Lonicera micrantha (Trautv.) Trautv. ex Regel
  • Xylosteon tartaricum (L.) Medik
  • Xylosteon tataricum (L.) Michx.

Tatarian honeysuckle wood invokes a behavioural response in about half of domestic cats. Of cats that do not respond to catnip, one third respond to Tatarian honeysuckle.[6]


Lonicera tatarica is a bushy shrub which may approach three meters (9.8 ft) in erect height. It is lined with oval or rounded simple leaves 3 to 6 centimetres (1.2 to 2.4 in) long. The leaves and stem range from 1 to 2 ½ inches long, ½ to 1 inch wide. They are egg shaped and both are hairless and toothless. The twigs can be an array of colors from green to brown with a hollow brown pith.

The inflorescence ranges in color from deep rose to light pink, and can also be white. The petals are typically ¾ to 1 inch long, with a slender tube and 2 lips, the upper of which contains 4 lobes, and the middle two erect and fused near the base. The white to pink to crimson red flowers are each about 1.5 centimetres (0.59 in) long, their stamens and styles protruding. The fruit is a shiny orange or red seed-containing berry up to a centimeter wide. The berries are attractive to wildlife.[7] The plant forms thickets and spreads easily when birds and other animals consume the fruits. The flowers have a sweet smell that is reminiscent of honeysuckle. The preferred environment is partial sun with moist, loamy soil. However, it is also able to grow in full shade or sun, and in dry or sandy soils.

In cultivation, Lonicera tatarica has hybridized with other shrubby species of Lonicera. Crossed with L. morrowii, it forms the invasive hybrid L. × bella.[8] It can also hybridize with L. ruprechtiana and L. xylosteum.[9]


Lonicera tatarica originates from Eurasia. Therefore, when this species is in North America, they act as an invasive species. L. tatarica threatens native habitats because they grow quickly and form thick, impenetrable mats that smother their competitors.[10]


Lonicera tartarica most commonly invades thickets, open woodlands, roadsides and fence rows. Animals such as birds and mammals disperse the seeds, causing a rapid spread which often leads to a dense understory thicket that not only restricts native plant growth but also inhibits biodiversity. Once L. tatarica is introduced into an environment, it is hard to control the growth of the plant in nature because honeysuckles grow at high density. In addition to high densities, L. tatarica has the ability to suppress the growth of other native plants in the area, thus creating monocultures. Problems reported with the invasion of L. tatarica include depletion of soil moisture and nutrients, allelopathic chemicals functioning to chemically alter the growth of native plants, and reductions in the density of tree seedlings in the area.[11]

Impact on humans

This species has a low poisonous severity level to humans, but the berries that grow from this plant are not recommended for consumption by humans. There have been no reports of Lonicera tatarica being correlated with any human death upon consumption. Symptoms that have been associated with the consumption of L. tatarica are diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.[12]


  1. "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  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. "honeysuckle | Description & Major Species". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  4. US Forest Service Weed of the Week
  6. Responsiveness of cats (Felidae) to silver vine (Actinidia polygama), Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and catnip (Nepeta cataria)
  7. "Lonicera tatarica (Tatarian Honeysuckle)". North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  8. Barnes, William J. & Cottam, Grant (1974). "Some Autecological Studies of the Lonicera × bella Complex". Ecology. 55 (1): 40–50. doi:10.2307/1934616. JSTOR 1934616.
  9. Green, P.S. (1966). "Identification of the Species and Hybrids in the Lonicera tatarica Complex". Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. 47 (1): 75–88. JSTOR 43781553.
  10. Drummond, Brie (2005). "The Selection of Native and Invasive Plants by Frugivorous Birds in Maine" (PDF). Northeastern Naturalist. 12 (1): 33–44. doi:10.1656/1092-6194(2005)012[0033:TSONAI]2.0.CO;2. JSTOR 3858501 via JSTOR.
  11. "Tatarian Honeysuckle | Minnesota Department of Agriculture". Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  12. "Lonicera tatarica (Tatarian Honeysuckle) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox". Retrieved 2021-05-03.

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