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Lonicera japonica

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Japanese honeysuckle
File:Honeysuckle 2.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Genus: Lonicera
Species: L. japonica
Binomial name
Lonicera japonica

The Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica; Suikazura スイカズラ/吸い葛 in Japanese; Jinyinhua in Chinese; in Chinese and Japanese) is a species of honeysuckle native to eastern Asia including China, Japan and Korea. It is a twining vine able to climb up to 10 metres (33 ft) high or more in trees, with opposite, simple oval leaves 3–8 centimetres (1.2Expression error: Unexpected < operator.3.1 in) long and 2–3 centimetres (0.79Expression error: Unexpected < operator.1.2 in) broad. The flowers are double-tongued, opening white and fading to yellow, and sweetly vanilla scented. The fruit is a globoseTemplate:Clarify dark blue berry Template:Convert/mm diameter containing numerous seeds.

It is an invasive species in a number of countries.

Cultivation and uses

This species is often sold by American nurseries as the cultivar 'Hall's Prolific' (Lonicera japonica var. halliana). It is an effective groundcover, and has pleasant, strong-smelling flowers. It can be cultivated by seed, cuttings, or layering. In addition, it will spread itself via shoots if given enough space to grow.

In both its native and introduced range, Japanese honeysuckle can be a significant source of food for deer, rabbits, hummingbirds and other wildlife.[1]

The variety L. japonica var. repens[2] has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Invasive species

Japanese honeysuckle has become naturalized in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand and much of the US, including Hawaii, as well as a number of Pacific and Caribbean islands.

In the US, Japanese honeysuckle is classified as a noxious weed in Texas,[3] Illinois, and Virginia, and is banned in New Hampshire.[4] It grows extremely rapidly in parts of America such as southwestern Ohio and is virtually impossible to control in naturalized woodland edge zones due to its rapid spread via tiny fruit seeds. It forms a tall dense woody shrub layer that aggressively displaces native plants. It is also very difficult to manage in semi-wild areas, such as in large rural yards.

It is listed on the New Zealand National Pest Plant Accord as an unwanted organism.[5]

It can be controlled to some degree via labor-intensive methods such as cutting or burning the plant to root level and repeating at two-week intervals until nutrient reserves in the roots are depleted. It can also be controlled through annual applications of glyphosate, or through grubbing if high labor and soil destruction are not of concern. Cutting the honeysuckle to within 5–10 cm of the ground and then applying glyphosate has proven to be more effective[citation needed], provided that the mixture is rather concentrated (20–25%) and is applied immediately after making the cut.

Chinese medicine

The Japanese honeysuckle flower is of high medicinal value in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is called rěn dōng téng (Script error; literally "winter enduring vine"[citation needed]) or jīn yín huā (Script error; literally "gold silver flower"). Alternative Chinese names include er hua and shuang hua.[6] In Korean, it is called geumeunhwa. The dried leaves are also used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Jin Yin Hua (Japanese Honeysuckle, Flos Lonicerae Japonicae) is notable for its inclusion in the traditional Chinese medicine herbal formula Honeysuckle and Forsythia Powder. In pinyin, this formula is called Yin Qiao San. Traditional indications for use of this formula include fever, headache, cough, thirst, and sore throat.[7] For indications such as this, it is common to find Japanese Honeysuckle paired in Chinese medicine herbal formulations with Forsythia (Lian Qiao, Fructus Forsythiae Suspensae). According to Chinese medicine, these herbs, when combined, have a synergistic medicinal effect to address indications such as fever with headache and sore throat. This is why these two herbs are considered "paired herbs".

In Chinese medicine, Jin Yin Hua is classfied with a temperature property of cold. The cold designation specifically refers to, in this case, to Jin Yin Hua's antitoxin, anti-bacterial, antipyretic, and anti-inflammatory properties.[8] Also, according to traditional Chinese medicine, Jin Yin Hua is contraindicated for patients with medical conditions that are diagnosed as deficient and cold in nature unless combined with other herbs to balance the temperature nature of Jin Yin Hua. In layperson terms, Jin Yin Hua is used in Chinese medicine to address what are called excess heat conditions such as fevers, skin rashes, and sore throat. Excess heat conditions are essentially inflammatory processes involving heat, redness, pain, and swelling often due to external pathogenic factors such as bacteria and viruses. The cold nature of Jin Yin Hua is considered to cool the heat nature of the heat related conditions. For example, Jin Yin Hua's antibacterial properties can help to cool a fever. In this case, the cold herb treats the heat condition. However, should a patient present with what is termed as a cold condition such as aversion to cold with cold limbs, cold and pain in the abdomen, and abdominal pain relieved by warmth,[9] then Jin Yin Hua's cold nature is said to be contraindicated for treating the pre-existing cold condition. Should an herbalist choose to use Jin Yin Hua in an herbal formula for a patient with a cold condition, he/she would then choose to balance the temperature of Jin Yin Hua with another herb that is warming in nature.


Lonicera japonica contains methyl caffeate, 3,4-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid, methyl 3,4-di-O-caffeoylquinate, protocatechuic acid, methyl chlorogenic acid and luteolin. These compounds have an inhibitory effect on human platelet aggregation that may explain the possible role of Japanese honeysuckle in maintaining vascular homeostasis.[10][11] The two biflavonoids, 3′-O-methyl loniflavone (5,5″,7,7″-tetrahydroxy 3′-methoxy 4′,4‴-biflavonyl ether) and loniflavone (5,5″,7,7″,3′-pentahydroxy 4′,4‴-biflavonyl ether) along with luteolin and chrysin can be isolated from the leaves.[12] Other phenolic compounds present in the plant are hyperoside, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid.[13]

The two secoiridoid glycosides, loniceracetalides A and B, can be isolated, together with 10 known iridoid glycosides, from the flower buds.[14]

The plant also contains the saponins loniceroside A and B[15] and the antiinflammatory loniceroside C.[16]


  1. Forest Plants of the Southeast and Their Wildlife Uses, James H. Miller and Karl V. Miller, University of Georgia Press, Revised Ed. 2005, p.278
  2. "RHS Plant Selector - Lonicera japonica var. repens". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  3. "Lonicera japonicaJapanese honeysuckle". 
  5. Biosecurity New Zealand - Japanese honeysuckle
  6. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, John and Tina Chen, Art of Medicine Press, 1st ed. 2001, p. 171
  7. Chinese Herbal Medicine Formulas & Strategies, Dan Bensky and Randall Barolet, Eastland Press, 2nd edition 1991, p.44
  8. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas, Vol.1, Him-che Yeung, Institute of Chinese Medicine, 1985, p.317
  9. Acumoxa Therapy Reference and Study Guide, Vol. 1, Richard Feit and Paul Zmiewski, Paradigm Publications, 1989, p.68-69
  10. Inhibition of platelet activation and endothelial cell injury by polyphenolic compounds isolated from Lonicera japonica Thunb. W.-C. Chang and F.-L. Hsu, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, Volume 45, Issue 4, April 1992, Pages 307–312, doi:10.1016/0952-3278(92)90088-Z
  11. Constituents from Lonicera japonica. Li-Yan Peng, Shuang-Xi Mei, Bei Jiang, Hong Zhou, Han-Dong Sun, Fitoterapia, Volume 71, Issue 6, December 2000, Pages 713–715, doi:10.1016/S0367-326X(00)00212-4
  12. Biflavonoids from Lonicera japonica. Neeraj Kumar, Bikram Singh, Pamita Bhandari, Ajai P. Gupta, Sanjay K. Uniyal and Vijay K. Kaul, Phytochemistry, December 2005, Volume 66, Issue 23, Pages 2740–2744, doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2005.10.002
  13. Determination of Phenolic Acids and Flavones in Lonicera japonica Thumb. by Capillary Electrophoresis with Electrochemical Detection. Youyuan Peng, Fanghua Liu and Jiannong Ye, Electroanalysis, March 2005, Volume 17, Issue 4, pages 356–362, doi:10.1002/elan.200403102
  14. Secoiridoid glycosides from the flower buds of Lonicera japonica. Rie Kakuda, Mio Imai, Yasunori Yaoita, Koichi Machida and Masao Kikuchi, Phytochemistry, December 2000, Volume 55, Issue 8, Pages 879–881, doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)00279-X
  15. Triterpenoid saponins from the aerial parts of Lonicera japonica. Kun Ho Son, Keun Young Jung, Hyeun Wook Chang, Hyun Pyo Kim and Sam Sik Kang, Phytochemistry, March 1994, Volume 35, Issue 4, Pages 1005–1008, doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)90656-3
  16. Loniceroside C, an Antiinflammatory Saponin from Lonicera japonica. Wie Jong Kwak, Chang Kyun Han, Hyeun Wook Chang, Hyun Pyo Kim, Sam Sik Kang and Kun Ho Son, Chem. Pharm. Bull., 2003, volume 51, issue 3, pages 333—335 (article)

External links