Japanese honeysuckle is a climbing or sprawling, semi-evergreen woody vine that often retains its leaves into winter.
Leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, 1½ to 3¼ inches long. Leaves produced in spring often highly lobed; those produced in summer unlobed. None of the leaves are joined at the base.
Stems are flexible, hairy, pale reddish-brown, shredding to reveal straw-colored bark beneath. Woody stems with yellowish-brown bark, shredding in long papery strips.
Flowers May–June, in pairs in the leaf axils. Flowers white or pink and turning yellow with age, ½ to 1½ inches long, tubular with two lips: upper lip with 4 lobes, lower lip with 1 lobe.
Fruits September–October. Berries black, glossy, smooth, pulpy, round, about ¼ inch long, with 2 or 3 seeds. Berries single or paired on stalks from leaf axils.