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Sweet Breath of Spring, Fragrant Honeysuckle, Winter Honeysuckle, January Jasmine - Lonicera fragrantissima


Family: Caprifoliaceae Honeysuckle family Genus Common Name: Honeysuckle Native Status: Introduced
Lonicera fragrantissima - Sweet Breath of Spring, Fragrant Honeysuckle, Winter Honeysuckle, January Jasmine. This non-native is one of the bush honeysuckles, and has arching stems to 10 feet tall. Most of the native honeysuckles are vines.

This is a very early-blooming plant, sometimes as early as January in the warmer parts of its range. In some areas it is given the common name January Jasmine, which is the same common name as is given to Jasminum nudiflorum. The latter is in the olive family rather than the honeysuckle family. Both plants bloom at about the same time, and L. fragrantissima blossoms fade to yellow as they age, which may lead to some confusion between the species. However, L. fragrantissima has a very distinct, pleasant fragrance, and Jasminum nudiflorum has none.

According to TexasInvasives.org, L. fragrantissima was introduced from Asia in the 1700s and 1800s. Since it is currently listed in only 13 states, it does not appear to be as dramatically invasive as its cousin, Lonicera japonica Japanese honeysuckle which is in 39 states. However, my observation of the plant is in a county in Tennessee (Hamilton) that is not included in the official distributions lists, so it is likely that it is more widespread than much documentation implies. L. fragrantissima is an eastern species in the US, being found west of the Mississippi only in Utah and Louisiana.

Found in:
AL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, UT, VA

Distribution of Lonicera fragrantissima in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 20 Sep 2014). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

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Site: Lookout Mountain, TN Date: 2010-March-13Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
The white (pinkish when first opening) blossoms are at the leaf nodes, with a cluster of 2 to several blossoms. The opposite leaves are 1.5 to 2 inches long, ovate, with distinct veining.
Lonicera fragrantissima

Site: Lookout Mountain, TN Date: 2010-March-13Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
1/40 f/11 ISO200
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
90mm (135 equiv)
Blossoms are usually in pairs at the leaf node, and may have more than a single pair at each node.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Lonicera fragrantissima

Site: Lookout Mountain, TN Date: 2010-March-13Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
1/40 f/11 ISO200
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
90mm (135 equiv)
Lonicera fragrantissima has arching branches with blossoms usually at each leaf node. The plant is deciduous, and the blossoms form before the new leaves. Some leaves may not drop, leaving a few of last year's leaves on the plant when it begins to bloom.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Lonicera fragrantissima

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2014
Photographs Copyrighted by the named photographer