Japanese honeysuckle, Hall’s honeysuckle
Description: semi-evergreen perennial vine
Place of origin: temperate eastern Asia
Urban habitat: disturbance-adapted, found on chain-link fences, masonry walls, abandoned building sites, roadsides, highway banks; can girdle saplings by twining around them to form dense mats in the canopies of trees, shading everything below
Ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer; erosion control; food and habitat for wildlife, particularly for white-tailed deer and a variety of bird species; tolerant of roadway salt; shade tolerant
History: Lonicera japonica was first introduced into US in 1806 on Long Island, NY. It was planted widely in the eastern US as an ornamental plant, prized for its sweet fragrance and attractive flowers, and as forage for animals. It is now found throughout the Midwest, South and Eastern US and has become a dominant species in disturbed woodland habitats throughout the Southeast and Northeast. The plant has been used in Asia for a variety of medicinal purposes for centuries. Its stems and flower buds can be used as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and diuretic, as a purifier and fever reducer. The plant has also been used to reduce blood pressure and its stems are eaten for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, mumps, and hepatitis. An infusion of its stems and flowers has been used for treatment of upper respiratory infections and dysentery. An infusion of the flower buds is used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments including syphilitic skin diseases and tumors, colds, enteritis, pain, swellings and experimentally, the flower extracts have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. Externally, the flowers can be applied as a wash to skin inflammations, infectious rashes and sores.