Skip to main content

Bells honeysuckle (Lonicera xbella)

Bells honeysuckle Common Names: Showy fly honeysuckle, whitebell honeysuckle, showy bush honeysuckle, bella honeysuckle

Description: Hybrid cross between Tatarian and Morrow?s honeysuckles. Common in urban areas and also occurs in rural areas where it was recommended for wildlife until its invasive traits became apparent; reduces tree and shrub regeneration, decreases overall plant diversity.

Habit: Deciduous upright to spreading shrub growing up to 3 m (10 ft) tall; shallow roots; forms dense thickets.

Leaves: Simple, opposite, elliptic to oval or oblong, slightly hairy beneath, 3-6 cm long; early leaf out, long growing season.

Stems: Multiple stems; arching branches; older branches hollow between nodes; pith brown; bark is gray or tan, shaggy.

Flowers: Small, pink in color, tubular, paired and fragrant, borne on stalks (0.5-1.5 cm long) arising from the leaf axils; bloom May through June.

Fruit and seeds: Fruits are red and paired, dispersed by birds.

Habitat: Sun and shade tolerant; occurs in a variety of soil and moisture conditions; found along roadsides and on disturbed sites; invades forest, savannas and prairies.

Reproduction: By seed, dispersed by birds.

Similar species: Natives Canadian fly honeysuckle (L. canadensis), Twinberry honeysuckle (L. involucrate), Swamp fly honeysuckle (L. oblongifolia) and Mountain fly honeysuckle (L. villosa) are comparatively short and sparse and lack hollow stems on older branches. Non-native privet species (Ligustrum spp.) have flowers and berries at the ends of their branches, not in the leaf axils.

Monitoring and rapid response: Monitor sunny, upland sites and open forests in spring as non-native honeysuckle leafs out before natives. Begin control efforts in highest quality areas; hand pull or dig small plants, removing all roots; target large, fruit-bearing plants for control/removal; foliar spray may be effective for large populations where few natives are present; treat cut stumps with herbicide; basal bark treatment is also effective, spray bottom 18 inches of all stems. Where fuel is present, prescribed fire may provide effective control of seedlings in fire adapted communities.

Credits: The Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) has partnered with MISIN to provide the information in this fact sheet. Species images and/or information were used with permission from "A Field Identification Guide to Invasive Plants in Michigan's Natural Communities" and "A Field Guide to Invasive Plants of Aquatic and Wetland Habitats for Michigan.

Common Name:

Bells honeysuckle

Scientific Name:

Lonicera xbella







USDA Symbol:


View Species Course