Grape Honeysuckle

Illustration of grape honeysuckle leaves, flowers, fruits.
Scientific Name
Lonicera reticulata (formerly L. prolifera)
Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckles)

Grape honeysuckle is a twining woody vine, sometimes somewhat bushy when no support is present.

Flowers in clusters at the end of stems on new growth; clusters arranged in 2–6 whorls or layers, which are usually separated along the stalk; flowers pale yellow, fragrant, ¾–1 inch long, tubular, slender, noticeably enlarged on one side at the base, smooth on the outside, hairy inside; tip of tube strongly spreading into 2 lips, one lip with a single narrow lobe, the other lip with 4 short lobes; stamens protrude beyond flower. Blooms April–June.

Leaves simple, opposite, connected by a broad base, pointed, the upper surface with a white (glaucous) coating. The inflorescence is subtended by a pair of leaves connected to form a disk about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide.

Fruits crowded in heads at the ends of stems; clusters arranged in 2–6 whorls or layers, which are usually separated along the stalk; berries red to orangish red, globe-shaped, about ¼ inch across, fleshy.

Stem length: to 15 feet.
Where To Find
mage of Grape Honeysuckle Distribution Map
Grows natively in the northern two-thirds of the state, but it is cultivated statewide.
Open woods, wooded slopes, bluffs ledges, upper slopes, wooded thickets. One quick way to tell this honeysuckle from the introduced and invasive Japanese honeysuckle is the pair of joined leaves just below the flower clusters: Japanese honeysuckle has no leaves joined in this fashion.
Their beautiful, fragrant flowers, attractiveness to hummingbirds and butterflies, and overall hardiness make honeysuckles popular in landscaping. Two of our worst invasive plants are introduced exotic honeysuckles, but this native species is not one of them. It is easy to grow but is not aggressive.
The deep, tubular flowers provide nectar to pollinators able to reach inside. Hummingbirds have long, pointy bills and extendable tongues for this purpose. Birds and small mammals eat honeysuckle fruits in the fall. Deer browse the leaves and stems.
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Similar Species
About Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines in Missouri
There are no sharp dividing lines between trees, shrubs, and woody vines, or even between woody and nonwoody plants. “Wood” is a type of tissue made of cellulose and lignin that many plants develop as they mature — whether they are “woody” or not. Trees are woody plants over 13 feet tall with a single trunk. Shrubs are less than 13 feet tall, with multiple stems. Vines require support or else sprawl over the ground.