Invasive Species: Lonicera fragrantissima, Sweet Breath of Spring
Sweet breath of spring is a multi-stemmed, upright, deciduous (evergreen in the South) invasive shrub. It grows from 6 to 10 ft (1.8 to 3 m) tall. The stems are hollow with stringy, tan bark and often are purple when young. Leaves are opposite, round, 1 to 3 in. (2.5 to 7.6 cm) long, and wide and usually persist into winter. Flowering occurs in the late winter, when the flowers develop in pairs in the leaf axils. The flowers are fragrant, tubular, 0.5 in. (1.5 cm) long, white to red or yellow, and thin-petaled. The abundant berries are 1/3 in. (8.5 mm) in diameter, ripen to orange or red in the mid-summer, and often persist throughout winter. Several species of exotic bush honeysuckles occur, and distinguishing species can be difficult. However, all have similar effects. Sweet breath of spring readily invades open woodlands, old fields, and other disturbed sites. Its rapid spread is attributed to dispersion of seeds by birds and mammals. It can form a dense understory thicket that can restrict native plant growth and tree seedling establishment. Sweet breath of spring is native to eastern Asia and was introduced in North America in the late 1800s. It has been planted widely as an ornamental shrub and for wildlife food and cover.
What are invasive species, and why should we be concerned about them?
Taxonomy: Scientific and Common Names for This Species
Dipsacales > Caprifoliaceae > Lonicera fragrantissima Lindl. & Paxton
Synonym(s): January jasmine, fragrant honeysuckle
Lonicera fragrantissima – USDA PLANTS Profile
sweet breath of spring – The reported distribution of this invasive species across the United States (Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States)
Up-to-the-minute distribution maps and why they are important
Reporting This Invasive Species
What is the best way to report the occurrence of an invasive species?
How to report an invasive species sighting to EDDMapS – Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System
EDDMapS – Report an invasive species to EDDMapS.
County Extension Offices – Find your county Extension office on this map provided by USDA.
How to Identify
This invasive species can be identified by looking for the characteristics described in the paragraphs that follow.
Sweet breath of spring is multi-stemmed, upright, and deciduous (evergreen in the South). It grows from 6 to 10 ft. (1.8 to 3 m) tall. The stems are hollow with stringy, tan bark and often are purple when young.
|Richard Webb, bugwood.org||James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, bugwood.org|
Leaves are opposite, round, 1 to 3 in. (2.5 to 7.6 cm) long, and wide and usually persist into winter.
|James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, bugwood.org||Richard Webb, bugwood.org|
Flowering occurs in the late winter, when flowers develop in pairs in the leaf axils. Flowers are fragrant, tubular, 0.5 in. (1.5 cm) long, white to red or yellow, and thin-petaled.
The abundant berries are 1/3 in. (8.5 mm) in diameter, ripen to orange or red in the mid-summer, and often persist throughout winter.
Native Bush Honeysuckle Species Can Resemble Sweet Breath of Spring
Lonicera albiflora, western white honeysuckle – Images at Invasive.org
|Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, bugwood.org||Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, bugwood.org|
– Images at invasive.org
Additional Images for Sweet Breath of Spring
sweet breath of spring – Images at Invasive.org
Learning Resources for Sweet Breath of Spring
Additional Information, Biology, Control and Management Resources
Control and management recommendations vary according to individual circumstances. Location, habitat, weather, and a variety of other conditions are factors that help determine the best treatment choice. To find the safest and most effective treatment for your situation, consult your state’s land-grant institution. If you will use chemicals as part of the control process, always refer to the product label .
United States Land-Grant University System – Find your Land-Grant University’s College of Agriculture, University Cooperative Extension Service, or other related partner on this map provided by USDA.
A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests – USDA Forest Service
A Management Guide for Invasive Plants of Southern Forests – USDA Forest Service
Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas – National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Weeds Gone Wild: Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas – Plant Conservation Alliance
Element Stewardship Abstract – The Nature Conservancy