Despite being banned in some states as an invasive species, the Japanese honeysuckle is still being deliberately planted in other states as ground cover for erosion control. It is probably less reviled than some other naturalized species because of the profusion of fragrant flowers it produces in mid-June. Just like other naturalized species, the Japanese honeysuckle grows quickly in disturbed habitats and produces fruits that are readily dispersed by birds.
Although its slender stems do not bring down large branches and trees as do the heavy woody stems of Asian bittersweet, they can form dense thickets that prevent the germination of other species, thus hindering the regeneration of native vegetation.
The Japanese honeysuckle is indigenous to China and Korea, not only to Japan from where it was introduced to the U.S. in the 1900's as an ornamental plant. In China, its dried leaves and flowers are used to treat fever, headache, cough, thirst, and sore throat. its Chinese name rěn dōng téng (忍冬藤) refers to the cold tolerance of this herbaceous vine. Indeed, its presence at Salter Grove is particularly noticeable during the winter months as conspicuous patches of green when all else is brown or gray.
It is not an evergreen plant in the usual sense where the same crop of green leaves persist throughout the year as in the American holly or eastern white pine. Rather, leaves that generated photosynthetic products during flowering and fruiting are replaced by a new crop that lasts through the winter to jumpstart the plant in spring.