Himalayan Honeysuckle

Leycesteria formosa

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Type of weed:

Flowering Months: , , , , ,

Description

A deciduous multi-stemmed shrub to 3 m high. Stems are erect, hollow and bamboo-like.

It is distinguished by opposite leaves joined by a ridge across the stem. The leaves are heart shaped. The underside of the leaves is paler than the upper surface.

White tubular flowers grow in long drooping lantern-like spikes, partly concealed by deep reddish-purple bracts. These bracts, which resemble leaves, are found at the base of the flowers. It flowers mostly spring and summer.

Fruits are ovoid fleshy berries, dark crimson when ripe. Each fruit contains more than 100 small seeds.

Dispersal

It is spread by animals, water and by layering. It may have the capacity to regenerate from broken pieces of stem washed down creek-lines. It escapes from gardens.

Impact on bushland

Ii invades sensitive moist bushland such as Blue Mountains swamps where it forms thickets and dense shade, displacing native vegetation.

Himalayan Honeysuckle is an increasing problem in the Blue Mountains because it can completely transform bushland into a weedy forest.

Distribution

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Alternative planting

Native plants

  • Crimson Bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus)
  • Grevilleas that like swampy heath such as Grevillea acanthifolia
  • Blueberry Ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatis)
  • Lillypilly (Acmena smithii)

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.

Control

  • Seedlings and small plants can be hand pulled if all the roots are removed; use a trowel or knife to assist by loosening the soil.
  • Use the cut and paint method on more established plants, using herbicide.
  • Larger plants can be stem injected by drilling into the woody base/root ball and filling with undiluted glyphosate.

Because the berries are bird spread, it is best to treat plants before they fruit. Bag any berries and dispose in a hot compost to kill the seed).  Other parts of the plant can be spread out to dry off the ground. Once dead the material will decompose in place or can be composted.

For more info

For key points on these techniques: