Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from western China, India, Nepal and Burma Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa) is a soft wooded multi-stemmed shrub 2 metres high.
  • Forms dense thickets that smother and shade out native vegetation and prevent the regeneration of native plant species.
  • It has become a serious environmental weed in south-eastern Australia.
  • It spreads mostly by bird dispersed seeds, and vegetatively when dislodged stem pieces are in contact with moist soil and form roots.
  • Control of Himalayan Honeysuckle requires an integrated program that includes manual removal and herbicide application.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa) is a deciduous, multi-stemmed, soft-wooded shrub that grows to about 2 m high. The stems are green, hollow, and hairless or sparsely hairy. The leaves are green on the upper surface and much paler below, mostly hairless and variable in size, ranging from 5 to 15 cm long and 1 to  8 cm wide, arranged in opposite pairs joined by a ridge across the stem. They are more or less oval in shape, broad at the base and narrowly tapered to a point at the tip. Leaf edges are mostly entire (without teeth) or occasionally prominently lobed.

The tubular flowers are 12–20 mm long, hairy, white or pink, and borne at the tips of branchlets in compact drooping clusters partly surrounded by small, leaf-like, purple and green bracts (modified leaves).

The fruit is a many seeded oval berry, 6–10 mm long and reddish-purple or black (Jeanes 1999; Muyt 2001; National Herbarium of Victoria 2008; Reid 2008 pers. comm.).

For further information and assistance with identification of Himalayan Honeysuckle, contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

White, Purple, Pink

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Himalayan Honeysuckle invades disturbed and undisturbed sites, particularly in riparian habitats and moist, sheltered forests (Jeanes 1999; Muyt 2001). In Tasmania, it is recorded from fern gullies and temperate rainforest (Curtis 1963).

Are there similar species?

Several other introduced plants in the honeysuckle family, such as Beauty Bush (Kolkwitzia sp.) and various honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.), are similar to Himalayan Honeysuckle, but the drooping flower clusters enclosed in leaf-like purple and green bracts are distinctive (Blood 2001).

Where doubt or confusion exists, contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Himalayan Honeysuckle is a weed of native environments found in gullies, protected hillsides, open woodlands, closed forests, forest margins, riparian vegetation, riverbanks and lake-sides in wetter cool temperate regions.

Native ecosystems: Himalayan Honeysuckle is a highly invasive environmental weed that out-competes native vegetation by forming dense thickets that smother smaller shrubs, shade out ground flora and prevent virtually all further regeneration of native plant species (Muyt 2001). It is a very serious threat to native vegetation in damp sclerophyll forest, wet sclerophyll forest and along streams (Carr et al.1992). It can invade both disturbed and undisturbed bush, forming dense thickets that can smother other vegetation and prevent regeneration, displacing both native plants and animals

Human impacts: The fruits of Himalayan Honeysuckle may be poisonous (Blood 2001).

How does it spread?

Himalayan Honeysuckle seeds are spread mostly by birds which eat the berries and excrete the seeds. The seeds are also dispersed by deer, water, machinery, vehicles, slashing, the movement of soil and possibly by possums and foxes. Stems or dislodged stem pieces which may be spread by slashing, by the dumping of garden waste and during manual removal can form roots on contact with moist soil. The species is still widely available through nurseries and markets (Blood 2001; Muyt 2001; Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare 2002).

What is its history in Australia?

Himalayan Honeysuckle was probably introduced to Australia as a garden plant in the mid 1800s. The earliest record of it being available in cultivation in Victoria is in a nursery catalogue published in 1855 (Brookes and Barley 1992). In 1923 it was collected growing wild at Limonite in the Gippsland Highlands in Victoria. Infestations are rapidly expanding in Victoria, especially since the early 1980s, and in New South Wales, and it can be expected to become far more common in future (Muyt 2001; National Herbarium of Victoria 2008).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Non-chemical control: Seedlings and smaller plants of Himalayan Honeysuckle can be hand pulled or dug out.

Chemical control: A range of treatments can be used on larger plants, including cutting stems back to near ground level and painting the cut stem with a suitable herbicide (the cut-paint method) or injection of a suitable herbicide into drill holes at the base of the plant (the drill-fill method). Plants can also be sprayed with selective or non-selective herbicides. Herbicide treatments should be used in late spring before the plants produce flowers and fruits. Follow-up treatments may be needed, as larger plants often re-shoot. Dense infestations can be slashed in winter before they bear fruit, the cut material disposed of safely and the regrowth sprayed in spring (Muyt 2001).

For chemical information, see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, available at http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Himalayan Honeysuckle flowers from late spring to autumn. Fruits mature in summer and autumn. Leaves are usually shed in winter, but some foliage may be retained in milder climates (Muyt 2001).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Himalayan Honeysuckle favours high rainfall areas. The relatively high number of Victorian collections of this plant since the early 1980s suggests a dramatic increase in naturalisations since that time, and it is now regarded as an increasing problem in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, where it was formerly considered to be rarely naturalised (Harden 1992; Thorp & Wilson 1998; National Herbarium of Victoria 2008).

In Victoria, it is recorded mainly from the eastern half of the state, particularly in the highlands and the snowfields regions where it is a major weed in the Mt. Buffalo National Park. It also occurs west of Melbourne in the Otway Ranges. 

Major infestations occur in western Tasmania, including the Queenstown area. 

In New South Wales, it is an increasing problem in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, where it is locally common around Katoomba and Leura. 

In South Australia, it is only known to be naturalised in the southern Lofty region near Adelaide (Sainty et al. 1998; Muyt 2001; Barker et al. 2005; AVH February 2021; eflora 2021).

Where does it originate?

Himalayan Honeysuckle is native to western China, India, Nepal and Burma (Thorp & Wilson 1998).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Leycesteria formosa

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Elisha's Tears, Pheasant Berry, Spiderwort, Cape Fuchsia, Whistle Stick, Flowering Nutmeg

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