Diervilla lonicera Mill. - Bush Honeysuckle

Diervilla lonicera

Native , Frequent

By Steven D. Glenn

Not peer reviewed

Last Modified 02/01/2013

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Diervilla lonicera
The one current record from Queens Co., NY may the result of restoration planting and not a wild population.

Common Names

Bush Honeysuckle

Field Identification

Small (to 1.5 m), rhizomatous, opposite-leaved shrub with clusters of light-yellow flowers near twig ends; fruits elongate with persistent, star-shaped appendages on tips.

Medicinal uses

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for reference and historical use. We do not recommend nor do we condone the use of this species for medicinal purposes without first consulting a physician.

Moerman, 1998

Used by native Americans to treat stomach pains, constipation, urinary difficulties, gonorrhea, sore eyes, senility, vertigo, and as a diuretic, blood medicine, and given to "spoiled babies with adulterous mother."


Diervilla lonicera Mill., Gard. Dict. Ed. 8. 1768.
*Lonicera diervilla L., Sp. Pl. 175. 1753.
Diervilla canadensis Bartram, Cat. Am. Trees Bartram’s Gard. broadsheet, col. 3. [1785 vel prius] “Diarvilla
Diervilla trifida Moench, Methodus. 492. 1794; Gray, Syn. Fl. N. Am. 1,2: 18. 1884.
Diervilla tourneforti Michx., Fl. Bor.-Am. 1: 107. 1803.
Diervilla humilis Persoon, Syn. Pl. 1: 214. 1805.
Diervilla canadensis Willdenow, Hort. Berol. 1: 222. 1806.
Diervilla lutea Pursh, Fl. Am. Sept. 1: 162. 1814.
Diervilla acadiensis Duhamel ex Baillon, Nat. Hist. Pl. 7: 352, fig. 356. 1880.
Diervilla diervilla MacMillan, in Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 19: 15. 1892.
TYPE: unknown

Diervilla lonicera var. hypomalaca Fern. Rhodora 42:144. 1940.
TYPE: unknown


HABIT Perennial, deciduous, phanerophytic, shrub, monoclinous, 0.5-1.5 m tall, stoloniferous.

STEMS Main stems ascending or erect, round. Bark not exfoliating. Branches erect or ascending or horizontal. Twigs dark red or light orange-red or brown or gray, terete, 2-4 mm in diam., smooth, glabrous or with short and unbranched, erect or spreading, white hairs. Current year twigs with minute pilose rows decurrent from nodes; 2nd+ year twigs glabrous. Pith white, round, continuous; nodal diaphragm absent. Sap translucent.

BUDS Terminal and axillary present, scattered along stem; pointed; axillary buds 1 per axil. Bud scales imbricate, membranaceous, with long and unbranched, appressed, white, hairs; moderately densely distributed apically. Bud scale scars not encircling the stem. Leaf scars crescent-shaped with 3 bundle traces.

LEAVES Simple, opposite, 2 per node, spaced somewhat evenly along and divergent from stem. Stipules absent. Leaves petiolate; petiole furrowed, 0.2-0.8 cm long, with short and long erect to spreading unbranched hairs, sparsely to densely distributed throughout. Leaf blades: oblong or ovate, bilaterally symmetric, 3-13 cm long, 2-6 cm wide, base obtuse, margin serrulate and ciliate, apex acuminate; abaxial surface light green, glabrous or with long and unbranched spreading hairs, sparsely distributed mostly along midveins. Adaxial surface green, glabrous or with short and unbranched hairs, sparsely distributed mostly along midveins; arcuate veination. Note: var. hypomalaca found in the upper Midwest and adjacent Canada, has dense white pilosity on abaxial surface.

INFLORESCENCES Serotinous, formed on the current season's growth, bisexual, cyme or compound cyme, terminal or axillary. Peduncle 0.5-1.5 cm long. Bracts green, often streaked and spotted with red, linear triangular, 2-6 mm long, 0.5 mm wide, margin ciliate, apex acute, abaxial surface glabrous, adaxial surface glabrous. Pedicels 3-10 mm long, glabrous or with short and unbranched spreading white hairs, sparsely distributed throughout. Bracteoles 2, at apex of pedicel, green, often streaked and spotted with red, linear triangular, 2-6 mm long, 0.5 mm wide, margin ciliate, apex acute, surfaces glabrous.

FLOWERS 5-merous, perianth of two whorls with sepals and petals readily distinguishable from one another, 20-30 mm long, 15 mm wide, weak fragrance present. Calyx actinomorphic, of free sepals, persistent, abaxial and adaxial surfaces green. Sepals 5, linear triangular, 3-7 mm long, 0.5 mm wide, margin ciliate, apex acute, abaxial surface glabrous, often streaked and spotted with red. Corolla zygomorphic, bilabiate, of fused petals with 5 lobes, deciduous, abaxial and adaxial surfaces light yellow, turning darker, often red, after anthesis; outer surface of lower corolla tube sparsely to moderately puberlent; nectary at base. Margin of lobes entire, apex obtuse, abaxial surface glabrous, adaxial surface with long and unbranched hairs. Gynoecium syncarpous. Locules 2. Stigma 1, capitate. Styles 1, hispid, exserted. Ovary inferior, elongate, glabrous. Placentation parietal. Stamens 5, epipetalous, exserted. Anthers dehiscing along the long axis, light yellow, glabrous. Filaments straight, proximally hispid. For a morphological survey of pollen see Donoghue, 1985. For a detailed analysis of the flower micro-anatomy see Wilkinson, 1948.

FRUITS Septicidal capsule, brown, 7-10 mm long, 3-4 mm wide, glabrous, crowned with persistent calyx.

SEEDS Brown, globose, 1-1.5 mm long, 1 mm wide, glabrous, reticulate-foveate.


Schoen, 1977

In the NYMF area, usually in dry to mesic well drained or rocky woods, banks, ledges; farther north, found in open and sandy thickets, woodlands, jack pine plains, and dry ground that has been cleared or burned within the past 30 to 50 years.


Indigenous to eastern North America.

United States -- CT, DE, IA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV

Canada -- NB, NF, NS, ON, PE, QC, SK

New York Metropolitan Region -- Native, predominantly in the north and northwestern areas of our flora.

Rarity Status

Heritage Global Rank -- G5

Connecticut -- Not listed

New Jersey -- Not listed

New York -- Not listed

Species Biology

Flowering May [week 4] - July [week 2] (with sporadic flowering into September [week 3])


Schoen, 1977 Thomson, 1985

Melittophily – Anthophora terminalis furcata, Bombus affinis, Bombus terricola, Bombus vagans, Dialictus laevissimus, Dialictus lineatulus, Megachile addenda, Megachile inermis

Phalaenophily – Hemaris diffinis


Fruiting fruits often persistent throughout year

Dispersal unknown


Hidayati, 2000

Recent studies suggest large portion (85%) of seeds have only morphological dormancy and germinated within 30 days in moist, warm soil. The other 15% have morphophysiological dormancy and require a period of warm stratification or treatment of GA3 to break dormancy. Light is critical for germination regardless of dormancy or treatments.