honeysuckle, common name for some members of the Caprifoliaceae, a family comprised mostly of vines and shrubs of the Northern Hemisphere, especially abundant in E Asia and E North America. The family includes the elders, viburnums, weigelas, and snowberries as well as the honeysuckles; many are hardy plants that are sometimes cultivated as ornamentals. One of the best-known North American species of the true honeysuckles (genus Lonicera) is the trumpet honeysuckle (L. sempervirens), an evergreen plant with fragrant, trumpet-shaped scarlet blossoms. The Japanese honeysuckle (L. japonica), with small white to yellow flowers, is naturalized in the United States and has become a ubiquitous and noxious weed, strangling the living plants on which it climbs. Woodbine, a name for several European vines, is most often L. periclymenum, also called eglantine. Bush honeysuckles are of the genus Diervilla. Some plants of other families are also called honeysuckle, e.g., the swamp and purple honeysuckles of the heath family. Sambucus (elder or elderberry) and Viburnum are shrubs and trees usually having showy flat-topped clusters of white flowers. The fruits of some species are edible, e.g., those of the common North American elder (S. canadensis), used in preserves, pies, and wine. The European elder (S. nigra) and the "Spirit of the Elder" have figured prominently in folklore of N Europe. Among the better known viburnums (also having edible berries) are the black haw, or stagbush (V. prunifolium), of E North America; the straggling-branched hobblebush, or wayfaring tree (V. alnifolium in America, V. lantana in the Old World); and the high-bush cranberry, or cranberry tree (V. opulus; the American plants are sometimes designated as V. trilobum). The snowball, or guelder-rose, is a cultivated variety of the cranberry tree in which the rounded blossom-clusters are composed of large sterile flowers. Arrowwood (V. dentatum and similar species) was formerly used for making arrows. The waxy-fruited snowberries are species of the genus Symphoricarpos. Weigela (or weigelia), shrubs of the E Asian genus Weigela, are sometimes cultivated elsewhere for their funnel-shaped blossoms. Twinflower (Linnaea borealis), unusual for this family in that it is herbaceous, was the favorite flower of Linnaeus. Honeysuckle is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Dipsacales, family Caprifoliaceae.

Honeysuckles (Lonicera; syn. Caprifolium Mill.) are arching shrubs or twining vines in the family Caprifoliaceae, native to the Northern Hemisphere. There are about 180 species of honeysuckle. Widely known species include Lonicera periclymenum (European Honeysuckle or Woodbine), Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle, White Honeysuckle, or Chinese Honeysuckle) and Lonicera sempervirens (Coral Honeysuckle, Trumpet Honeysuckle, or Woodbine Honeysuckle). Hummingbirds are attracted to these plants.

The leaves are opposite, simple oval, 1–10 cm long; most are deciduous but some are evergreen. Many of the species have sweetly-scented, bell-shaped flowers that produce a sweet, edible nectar. Breaking of the Honeysuckle's stem will release this powerful sweet odor. The fruit is a red, blue or black berry containing several seeds; in most species the berries are mildly poisonous, but a few (notably Lonicera caerulea) have edible berries. The plant is eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species - see list of Lepidoptera that feed on honeysuckles.

Cultivation and uses

Wood cuttings from the species Lonicera tartarica, native to Eurasia, are sold as cat toys. The wood contains nepetalactone, which is the active ingredient found in catnip. Many breeds of cats react to the scent of the wood and will paw, lick or rub against it.

Honeysuckles grow best in partial sun to partial shade.

Lonicera japonica and Lonicera maackii (Amur Honeysuckle or Bush Honeysuckle) are considered invasive weeds in the United States and in New Zealand. Honeysuckle can be controlled by cutting, flaming, or burning the plant to root level and repeating on two-week increments until nutrient reserves in the roots are depleted. Honeysuckle can also be controlled through annual applications of glyphosate, or thorough grubbing if high labor and soil destruction are not of concern.

Honeysuckle is also edible; removing the blossom, one may suck at the sweet nectar in the center.

Cordage made from honeysuckle was used in the construction of Seahenge.

Honeysuckle flowers can be used to flavor wine, syrup, sorbet, and other sweet dishes.

Another name for honeysuckle is woodbine; and eglantine is used in Milton's L'Allegro.

Selected species

  • Lonicera longituba
  • Lonicera maackii – Amur Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera macrantha
  • Lonicera macranthoides
  • Lonicera maximowiczii
  • Lonicera microphylla
  • Lonicera minuta
  • Lonicera minutifolia
  • Lonicera modesta
  • Lonicera morrowii – Morrows honeysuckle
  • Lonicera mucronata
  • Lonicera myrtillus
  • Lonicera nervosa
  • Lonicera nigra – Black-berried Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera nitida – Box or Boxleaf honeysuckle
  • Lonicera nubium
  • Lonicera nummulariifolia
  • Lonicera oblata
  • Lonicera oblongifolia – Swamp Fly Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera oiwakensis
  • Lonicera oreodoxa
  • Lonicera orientalis
  • Lonicera pampaninii
  • Lonicera periclymenum – Common (or European) honeysuckle, Woodbine
  • Lonicera pileata – Privet honeysuckle
  • Lonicera pilosa - Mexican Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera praeflorens
  • Lonicera prostrata
  • Lonicera pyrenaica
  • Lonicera reticulata – Grape Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera retusa
  • Lonicera rhytidophylla
  • Lonicera rupicola
  • Lonicera ruprechtiana – Manchurian Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera saccata
  • Lonicera schneideriana
  • Lonicera semenovii
  • Lonicera sempervirens – Trumpet Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera serreana
  • Lonicera setifera
  • Lonicera similis
  • Lonicera spinosa
  • Lonicera splendida
  • Lonicera standishii – Standishs Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera stephanocarpa
  • Lonicera subaequalis
  • Lonicera subhispida
  • Lonicera sublabiata
  • Lonicera subspicata – Southern Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera szechuanica
  • Lonicera taipeiensis
  • Lonicera tangutica
  • Lonicera tatarica – Tartarian Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera tatarinowii
  • Lonicera tomentella
  • Lonicera tragophylla
  • Lonicera tricalysioides
  • Lonicera trichogyne
  • Lonicera trichosantha
  • Lonicera trichosepala
  • Lonicera tubuliflora
  • Lonicera utahensis – Utah Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera villosa – Mountain Fly Honeysuckle
  • Lonicera virgultorum
  • Lonicera webbiana
  • Lonicera xylosteum – (European) Fly Honeysuckle, Dwarf Honeysuckle, Fly Woodbine
  • Lonicera yunnanensis
  • Honeysuckle in popular culture

    • In the book The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, the smell of honeysuckle is mentioned often to imply sexual activity on the part of the character Caddy.
    • Honeysuckle is mentioned in Joe Bonamassa's song Mountain Time.
    • Honeysuckle Vines are mentioned in Jimmy Buffett's song "Tin Cup Chalice."
    • Honeysuckle is mentioned in Sammy Kershaw's song "Don't Go Near The Water."
    • Honeysuckle is mentioned as Mrs Dietrich's (Barbara Stanwyck's) perfume in "Double Indemnity."
    • The British actress Honeysuckle Weeks was named after the honeysuckle flowers, which were in bloom at the time of her birth.
    • In the video game series .hack//G.U., Haseo receives a weapon called the Lit Honeysuckle.
    • In Japan, a honeysuckle represents "devoted affection," commonly referring to young fated lovers.
    • La Maison de Lola has a character named Ms Honeysuckle
    • In the 2005 Disney film, Sky High, honeysuckle is shown as a decoration in the character Layla's locker.
    • In August Strindberg's play, Miss Julie, the valet Jean mentions to the eponymous heroine that honeysuckles grew over the Turkish Pavilion which he saw in her fathers garden when he was a boy.
    • Honeysuckle Rose is a 1935 solo piano jazz tune by Fats Waller and a 1980 Willie Nelson film.
    • The heavy metal band Lamb of God mentions honeysuckle in their song "In Defense of our Good Name"
    • Honeysuckle is mentioned in Robert Frost's poem "To Earthward," as well as the O.A.R. song "Earthward" which quotes the poem.


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