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Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata)

Life history

Species overview

Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata), a Wisconsin Endangered plant, is found in cold, wet old-growth tamarack swamps, alder thickets, and cold moist woods. Blooming occurs throughout June; fruiting occurs throughout August. The optimal identification period for this species is early June through late August.

Synonyms: Distegia involucrata; Xylosteum involucratum; Lonicera involucrata var. flavescens


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Base of flower reddish with oval leaf-like bracts; fruits purplish-black at maturity; largest leaves 9 to greater than 12 cm long.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers 10 to 15 mm long, yellow, tubular or cup-shaped with a red "saucer" base, stems 2 to 4 cm long; red flower base made up of oval leaf-like bracts and usually stays attatched after the petals have dropped.
  • Fruit characteristics: Shiny, purplish-black (at maturity) fruit developing in the red base of the flower.
  • Leaf characteristics: Opposite, largest leaves 9 to 12+ cm long, egg-shaped, gradually widening from a short petiole and concavely forming a sharp point at the tip, underside with shaggy, long, soft hairs.


  • Blooming phenology: throughout June
  • Fruiting phenology: throughout August
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early June through late August


  • Growth form: Shrub
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Larix laricina, Alnus rugosa, Calamagrostis canadensis, Calla palustris, Ribes triste, Potentilla palustris, Caltha palustris, Sium suave, Galium tinctorium, Carex canescens.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Lonicera involucrata in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in cold, wet old-growth tamarack swamps, alder thickets, and cold moist woods.
  • Soils: Moist to wet soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Fly Honeysuckle. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Northern Tamarack Swamp 3
Alder Thicket 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Fly Honeysuckle. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
Superior Coastal Plain 3

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes on or near known populations.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Maintain and restore open habitat through selective clearing and brushing.


Fly Honeysuckle Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Fly Honeysuckle Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Fly Honeysuckle Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Fly Honeysuckle Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Fly Honeysuckle Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition