Lonicera X bella (Showy Honeysuckle)

Plant Info
Also known as: Showy Fly Honeysuckle, Bell's Honeysuckle
Family:Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle)
Life cycle:perennial woody
  • Invasive - ERADICATE!
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soil; fields, fence rows, forests, woodland edges, thickets, landscape plantings
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:3 tp 12 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular

[photo of flowers] Pairs of irregular flowers arising from leaf axils all along first year branches. Flowers are deep rosy to light pink, sometimes white, ¾ to 1 inch long, with a slender tube and 2 lips, the upper lip with 4 lobes, iniitally erect becoming spreading, the lower lip reflexed down, slightly longer than the upper, and both longer than the floral tube. Outer surfaces are hairless. Protruding from the tube are 5 yellow-tipped stamens and a slender, white style with a green, dome-shaped stigma at the tip.

[photo of flower stalk and bracts] The floral tube is slightly swollen on one side near the base. At the base of the tube is a green, egg-shaped ovary with 5 lance-oblong lobes at the tip. The pair of flowers sits at the tip of a hairless to sparsely hairy stalk up to about 1 inch long with a pair of leaf-like bracts between the stalk and ovary. The bracts are lance-oblong, spreading, usually sparsely hairy, and longer or shorter than the ovary. At the base of each ovary is a second bract (bracteole) that is oval to egg-shaped and more or less half as long as the ovary at anthesis.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are opposite, 1 to 2½ inches long, ½ to 1 inch wide, egg-shaped to lance-oblong, widest at or below the middle, blunt or pointed at the tip, rounded to straight across to somewhat heart-shaped at the base, with a short, hairless stalk. Surfaces are variously hairy, sometimes hairless. Edges are toothless, sometimes with scattered hairs around the edge. Color is green to blue-green. Twigs are green to brown, usually with some hairs, and hollow with a brown pith. Older bark is gray and often peeling in strips. Stems are multiple from the base and many-branched, often forming dense thickets.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a bright red, shiny, round berry, ¼ to 1/3 inch in diameter, containing a few seeds.


Showy Honeysuckle is the most common of the four exotic invasive Honeysuckles to grace our landscape. It is a cultivated, fertile hybrid between Tatarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) and Morrow's Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii), which escaped cultivation and has spread across the country. Like L. tatarica, is has deep rosy pink to white flowers and like L. morrowii it usually has at least some hairs on leaves, stalks and bracts, and its flowers fade to yellowish as they wither, where L. tatarica flowers do not. This hybrid is actually more common than either parent and is often mistaken for one of them, L. tatarica in particular—we suspect a number of herbarium specimens originally IDed as L. tatarica are actually L. ×bella and the county distribution map indicates that may be the case.

All of these exotic Honeysuckles are problematic in natural areas. They can create dense thickets, they leaf out early and stay leafed out later than most other shrubs, all of which robs sunlight, moisture and nutrients from other plants in the understory. Birds eat the fruits and easily spread the seeds to new locations. The exotics are fairly easy to distinguish from the MN native Lonicera species: most natives are vines not shrubs, the native shrubs do not have the vigor or stature of the exotics, nor do they have pink or white flowers, and the twigs are solid where the exotics are hollow.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Chisago and St. Louis county.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Tanner - Baxter
on: 2017-05-25 05:36:42

There are two in my backyard, one is a huge tree with pink and white flowers, the other is smaller and has only white flowers. I raise honey bees and they love it. Too bad it's invasive.

Posted by: Denise Regstad - Hermantown (near Duluth)
on: 2022-08-28 09:35:20

Found throughout our property in wooded areas.

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