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Leycesteria formosa

Small shrub with hollow and globular stems, deciduous leaves and small pendant and terminal flowers that resemble hybrid fuchsia (Fuchsia hybrida).

Scientific name: Leycesteria formosa Wall.

Common name: Himalayan honeysuckle

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Status in Portugal: invasive species in Azores and on Madeira Islands (listed in Decree-Law no. 92/2019, 10 July). No known records outside cultivation in mainland Portugal.

Risk Assessment Score: [in development]

Synonymy: Leycesteria formosa var. brachysepala Airy Shaw, Leycesteria formosa var. formosa, Leycesteria formosa var. glandulosissima Airy Shaw 

Last update: 28/11/2016 | Profile prepared by the LIFE+ Terras do Priolo project team.

Help us map this species on our citizen-science platform

Avistamentos actuais da espécie: 

How to recognize it

Small shrub up to 2.5 m and deciduous with erect, hollow and glossy stems.

Leaves: simple, ovatelanceolate, acuminate up to 240 mm.

Flowers: the red or purple bracts surrounding the small flowers on the terminal inflorescences are a distinctive feature.

Fruits: large, shiny, black, brownish or purple berry 7-10 mm.

Flowering: in the Summer and early Autumn.

Similar species

Characteristics that aid invasion

The plant reaches sexual maturation in 2 to 3 years and reproduces seminally with the production of hundreds to thousands of seeds/plant/year. Its dispersion is done by endozoochory and hydrochory. Planting in gardens and roadsides also facilitates their dispersal.

Native distribution area

India, Southwestern China.

Distribution in Portugal

Invasive in the Azores (Terceira and São Miguel islands ).

For more detailed locations of this species, check the online interactive map. This map is still incomplete – we need your help! Contribute by submitting records of the location of the species where you can find it.


Geographical areas where Leycesteria formosa Wall has been recorded.


Other places where the species is invasive

Australia, New Zealand, California.

Introduction reasons

Intentional introduction for ornamental purposes.

Preferential invasion environments

Abandoned pastures, steep slopes, tails where vegetation is low and sparse. Very common in laurel forests, juniper groves, peatlands and along streams.

Although legally not considered invasive in Portugal, it shows invasive behaviour in some locations, including in the Azores.

Impacts on ecosystems

The species forms dense patches that alter the structure, abundance and ecological succession of the ecosystems it invades. It prevents the development of native vegetation and reduces species diversity through competition and recruitment.

Economic impacts

Potentially high costs in applying control measures.

Natura 2000 Network habitats more prone to impacts

– Alpine rivers and the herbaceous vegetation along their banks (3220);

– Mediterranean Sclerophyllous Forests (Macaronesian laurel forests) (9360).

Controlling an invasive species demands a well-planned management, which includes the determination of the invaded area, identifying the causes of invasion, assessing the impacts, defining the intervention priorities, selecting the adequate control methodologies and their application. Afterwards it is fundamental to monitor the efficiency of the methodologies and recuperation of the intervened area as to perform, whenever necessary, the follow-up control.

The control methodologies used for Leycesteria formosa include:

Physical control

Hand pulling: is the most effective way of control. The total extraction of the root and the plant requires labor and work time; however, it is feasible and advisable in easy-access places, with low erosion risk or where small patches occur close to populations of rare and endangered species. Plant residues/fragments can be left in place to dry. The removal should be carried out with wet weather and moist soil to facilitate root removal.

Visit the webpage How to Control for additional and more detailed information about the correct application of these methodologies.

González G (2006) Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares (Especies silvestres y las principales cultivadas).  Ediciones Mundi-Prensa. Disponível: aqui [Retrieved16/10/2015].

Silva L, Corvelo R, Moura M (2008) Leycesteria formosa Wall. In: Silva L, E Ojeda Land & JL Rodríguez Luengo (eds.) Flora e Fauna Invasora da Macaronésia. TOP 100 nos Açores, Madeira e Canárias, pp. 376-377. ARENA, Ponta Delgada.

Silva L, Marcelino J, Resendes R, Moniz J (2009) First record of the top invasive plant Leycesteria formosa (Caprifoliaceae) in Terceira Island, Azores. Arquipélago. Life and Marine Sciences 26: 69-72.

Schäfer H (2005) Flora of the Azores. A Field Guide. Second Enlarged e-dition. Margraf Publishers, Weikersheim.

The Plant List. Leycesteria formosa Wall. Disponível: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/search?q=Leycesteria+formosa [Retrieved 08/10/2015].