Lonicera morrowii Gray - Morrow Honeysuckle
Non-native , Common
By Steven D. Glenn
Not peer reviewed
Last Modified 05/22/2013
Common NamesMorrow Honeysuckle
Field IdentificationDeciduous shrub with opposite, simple, entire-margined leaves; with white-yellow tubular flowers followed by red-orange berries.
Used as an ornamental in landscaping situations; introduced into cultivation about 1875 and hardy to USDA zones 3? -5.
Although the berries of some species are known to be edible; generally, ingestion of the fruit causes mild to moderate nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; death is unlikely.
Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) with orange (instead of the normal yellow) tail bands have appeared in eastern North America in the last 35 years. Biochemical studies have implicated a dietary cause, specifically the fruits of Lonicera morrowii, for this novel color variant. Rectrices (tail feathers) replaced while Cedar Waxwings are feeding on L. morrowii fruits develop orange tips. (Witmer, 1996).
NomenclatureLonicera morrowii A. Gray in Perry, Narr. Exp. Chin. Jap. 2: 313. 1856.
Lonicera chrysantha sensu Miq., Ann. Mus. Bot. Ludg.-Bat. 2: 270. 1866, non Turcz. 1845.
Lonicera xylosteum sensu Miq., Ann. Mus. Bot. Ludg.-Bat. 2: 270. 1866, non L. 1753.
Caprifolium morrowii Kuntz, Rev. Gen. Pl. 1: 274. 1891.
DescriptionHABIT Perennial, deciduous, phanerophytic, shrub, monoclinous, 1-2 m tall.
STEMS Main stems ascending or erect, round. Bark furrowed or fibrous, exfoliating slightly on older stems or not exfoliating, gray. Branches ascending or horizontal. Twigs light brown or gray (youngest twigs often tinted purple), not odoriferous, terete, 1-5 mm in diam., smooth, glabrous or with short and unbranched hairs or with long and unbranched hairs, erect or spreading, light brown or white or light gray, sparse to dense, distributed apically, not glabrescent, eglandular; older twigs with less hair and becoming fibrous. Pith absent, nodal diaphragm absent. Sap translucent. For a detailed analysis of the root anatomy see Gasson, 1979.
BUDS Terminal and axillary present, monomorphic, scattered along stem; terminal bud ovoid, pointed; axillary buds 1-2 per axil, ovoid, pointed. Bud scales light brown, imbricate, glabrous or with short and unbranched hairs, distributed marginally, eglandular. Bud scale scars not encircling the stem. Leaf scars thinly crescent-shaped. Vascular bundle scars 3.
LEAVES Opposite, simple, spiral, 2 per node, spaced somewhat evenly along stem, divergent from stem. Stipules absent. Leaves petiolate, petiole terete, 0.2-0.6 cm long, with long and unbranched hairs, erect or spreading, distributed throughout; not glabrescent, eglandular, occassionally tinged with purple. Leaf blades: abaxial surface light green, adaxial surface green; elliptic or oblong or ovate or obovate, bilaterally symmetric, 2-7.5 cm long, 1-4.5 cm wide, base cuneate or obtuse, margin entire or ciliate, apex acute (occasionally mucronulate). Abaxial surface with long and unbranched hairs, erect or appressed or spreading, light brown or white or light gray, moderately dense or dense, distributed throughout; not glabrescent, with minute (visible at 25x), stalked glands on veins. Adaxial surface with long and unbranched hairs, erect or appressed or spreading, light brown or white or light gray, sparse or moderately dense, distributed throughout; not glabrescent, eglandular.
INFLORESCENCES Bisexual, axillary 2-flowered cyme. Peduncle 0.5-1.5 cm long, hairy, occasionally tinged with purple. Rachis absent, flowers sessile at apex of peduncle. Bracts sessile, green (occasionally tinged with purple), lanceolate or elliptic, 3-13 mm long, 1-2.5 mm wide, base cuneate, margin ciliate, with long and unbranched hairs, eglandular, occasionally foliaceous. Bracteoles 2, green, ovate or obovate, 1.5-2.5 mm long, 1-1.5 mm wide, margin ciliate, apex acute or obtuse, with long and unbranched hairs, eglandular.
FLOWERS Serotinous, formed on last season's growth, bisexual, with sepals and petals readily distinguishable from one another, 5-merous, 2 flowers per inflorescence, fragrant. Calyx actinomorphic, of fused sepals, persistent, abaxial and adaxial surfaces light yellowish green or light green. Sepal lobes 5, often tinged with purple, narrow oblong or lanceolate, 1-2 mm long, 0.5 mm wide, margin entire or ciliate, apex acute or obtuse, glabrous, eglandular. Corolla zygomorphic, of fused petals, deciduous, abaxial and adaxial surfaces light yellow or yellow or white (usually turning darker yellow after anthesis), 12-15 mm long, gibbous at base. Petal lobes 5. Margin entire, apex obtuse, abaxial surface with long and unbranched hairs, eglandular, adaxial surface glabrous, eglandular. Gynoecium syncarpous. Locules 2-3. Stigmas 1, capitate. Styles 1. Ovary inferior, glabrous, eglandular. Placentation axile. Androecium epipetalous, exserted, haplostemous, inserted near the top of the corolla tube. Stamens 5. Anthers opening along the long axis, yellow, glabrous, eglandular. Filaments straight, light yellow or white, glabrous. For a detailed analysis of the flower micro-anatomy and vascularization see Wilkinson, 1948.
FRUITS Bacca, red or orange-red (var. xanthocarpa has yellow fruit), globose, 5-6 mm in diameter, glabrous, eglandular.
SEEDS Seeds 2 to 8, red or orange-red or orange, ovoid, 2.5-3.5 mm long, 2-2.5 mm wide, glabrous, eglandular, reticulate -foveate.
HabitatWidely adaptable, found in dry to wet situations in sun or shade including woods, thickets, fields, roadsides, and swamps.
DistributionIndigenous to Japan, naturalized in eastern North America with outliers in Colorado and Wyoming.
United States -- AK, CO, CT, DE?, IA, IL, IN?, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY
Canada -- NB?, ON, QC, SK
New York Metropolitan Region -- Nonnative, naturalized throughout the metropolitan area; the most common nonnative bush honeysuckle in the metropolitan area.
Rarity StatusGlobal Heritage Rank -- G5
May [week 1] - June [week 1]
Mellitophily -- Apis, Andrena?, Bombus?, Halictus?, Megachile?, Osmia?
Mycophily ?-- Mesogramma?
Phalaenophily ?-- Hemaris?
Ornithophily ?-- Trochilus? (Hummingbird)
June [week 2] - September [week 4]
Endozoochory -- Avian frugivores: Turdus migratorius (Robin), Bombycilla cedrorum (Cedar Waxwing), Pheucticus ludovicianus (Rose-breasted Grosbeak), Dumetella carolinensis (Catbird), Icterus galbula (Baltimore Oriole), Cyanocitta cristata (Blue Jay), Pipilo spp. (Towhee), Agelaius phoeniceus (Red-winged Blackbird), Molothrus ater (Cowbird), Sturnus vulgaris (Starling), Catharus fuscescens (Veery Thrush), Catharus minima (Gray-cheeked Trush), Catharus ustulatus (Swainson's Thrush), Cardinalis cardinalis (Cardinal), Carpodacus purpureus (Purple Finch), Carduelis tristis (Goldfinch), Zonotrichia albicollis (White-throated Sparrow), Mimus polyglottus (Mockingbird), Dendroica coronata?(Yellow-rumped Warbler), Toxosoma rufum? (Brown Thrasher)
Mammals: Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed deer) (Vellend, 2002)
Natural germination is believed to occur in the spring following autumn/winter dispersal. Avian frugivores have shown to improve germination in related species. Germination is epigeous. This species might exhibit embryo dormancy, other times an impermeable seed coat might retard germination. Stratification in moist sand or peat at 41 degrees F for 60 days might be beneficial for the first type; for those of the second type a period of moist stratification at 68[night] - 86[day] degrees F for 60-90 days followed by a period of moist stratification at 41 degrees F for 60 days might be helpful. Possibly light scarification can be substituted for the warm stratification. While definite information for the optimum storage of Lonicera seeds is lacking; generally, seed stored in a sealed container at 41 degrees F should remain viable for at least one year.