Description & Overview

A native to Wisconsin shrub, Swamp Fly Honeysuckle shines as an addition to a restoration project typically growing four feet tall and wide. Pairs of creamy white to pale yellow tubular flowers are lightly fragrant and bloom in June. Flowers are followed by red-orange berries that are 1/3″ in diameter. In fall, the leaves turn muted shades of yellow.

Core Characteristics

Category: Shrub

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 2-5 feet

Mature Spread: 2-5 feet

Growth Rate: Fast

Growth Form: Spreading

Light Requirements: Partial Shade to Full Shade

Site Requirements: Moist to wet, rich, alkaline

Flower: Pairs of creamy white, two-lipped flowers

Bloom Period: May – June

Foliage: Green-blue, 1 – 3 ½" long, toothless, oblong-elliptic

Fall Color: Insignificant - yellow

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Red berry, 1/3", several seeds per berry

Suggested Uses

Swamp Fly Honeysuckle is uncommon throughout its range, found mostly along Lake Michigan and a few counties in the north and south, growing in marshes, fens, wetlands, woodlands, or swamps. It should be planted in sites where there is ample moisture in part sun to full shade conditions. It can stand to be in a little sun if the soil never dries out.

This shrub is an excellent candidate for restoration projects. Often rooting where branches touch the ground, it forms colonies that are clonal offsets of the mother plant. This habit is useful for reducing soil erosion along banks where the soil would other be washed away. Try Swamp Fly Honeysuckle along shores, banks, or slopes of wet areas.

Perpetually wet road ditches, in sedge meadows, mucky woodlands, or shade gardens are also perfect sites for Swamp Fly Honeysuckle. It looks great when intermingled with sedges as an understory planting.

Wildlife Value

Lonicera oblongifolia is the host plant for several insect species including Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis), Brown-lined Sallow moth (Sympistis badistriga), Harris’s Three-spot (Harrisimemna trisignata), and Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe).

Hawkmoths take nectar from the flowers, such as Hermit Sphinx (Lintneria eremitus), Abbott’s Sphinx (Sphecodina abbottii), White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata), Apple Sphinx (Sphinx Gordius), Poecila Sphinx (Sphinx specia), and Tersa Sphinx (Xylophanes tersa).

Robins, Cedar Waxwings, Brown Thrashers, Goldfinches, and Gray Catbirds will consume the fruits of honeysuckle species. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are known to visit the flowers for nectar, as are Anthophorid bees and bumblebees.

Maintenance Tips

Remove a quarter of the old shoots after flowering if plants need a rejuvenation, otherwise, let them be to sprawl.


Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes
Deer Resistant: No
Rabbit Resistant:No

Foliage may occasionally be eaten by deer and rabbits if other more appetizing options are not available.

Leaf Lore

The genus Lonicera is named after Adam Lonitzer, a German herbalist and botanist of the 1500s.

The specific epithet oblongifolia means what it sounds like ‘oblong-leaved.’

The Iroquois used an infusion of the bark of Swamp Fly Honeysuckle to treat loneliness, restlessness, bladder pain, and gynecological problems.

Companion Plants

Other plants that do well in similar moist to wet sites include Fox Sedge, Meadow Anemone, Palm Sedge, Bottle Gentian, Michigan Lily, Golden Groundsel, Obedient Plant, Alder-leaf Buckthorn, Zig Zag Goldenrod, Bladdernut, Yellow Birch, Mountain Maple, American Yew, Labrador Violet, Bog Birch, and Umbrella Magnolia.

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Written by Beth DeLain