Honeysuckle

Lonicera periclymenum
Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae)


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Lonicera periclymenum, common names honeysuckle, common honeysuckle, European honeysuckle, or woodbine, is a species of flowering plant in the family Caprifoliaceae native to much of Europe, North Africa, Turkey and the Caucasus. It is found as far north as southern Norway and Sweden.

Description

Growing to 7 m (23 ft) or more in height, it is a vigorous deciduous twining climber, occasionally keeping its old leaves over winter. In the UK it is one of two native honeysuckles, the other being Lonicera xylosteum. It is often found in woodland or in hedgerows or scrubland.

The tubular, two-lipped flowers, creamy white or yellowish in colour, may be flushed with pink or red on the outside and in bud, and are carried in showy clusters at the ends of the shoots. The flowers are highly scented by night, much less so by day.

Ecology

The plant is usually pollinated by moths or long-tongued bees and develops bright red berries. Dormice make summer nests for their young from honeysuckle bark; they also eat the flowers, which are a good source of energy-rich nectar. Night-flying moths such as the hummingbird hawk-moth can detect the scent of honeysuckle flowers up to a quarter of a mile away. The clusters of red berries are eaten in the autumn by birds such as thrushes, bullfinches and warblers.

Cultivation

Lonicera periclymenum is one of several honeysuckle species valued in the garden, for its ability to twine around other plants, or to cover unsightly walls or outbuildings; and for the intense fragrance of its profuse flowers in summer. It needs to be planted with its roots in the shade, and its flowering top in sun or light shade. Plants need to be chosen with care as they can grow to a substantial size. The cultivars 'Graham Thomas' and 'Serotina' have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Pests

Chromatomyia aprilina – honeysuckle leaf miner

Cultural references

In William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night's Dream he refers to woodbine/honeysuckle twice:

  1. (Act II Scene 1) "Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine"
  2. (Act IV Scene 1) "So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle gently entwine"

It seems probable that the first quotation is referring to the honeysuckle L. periclymenum, a common sight in hedgerows in Shakespeare’s time. The second quotation is somewhat more confusing. It is thought that on this occasion, "woodbine" refers to a species of Convolvulus, also very common but nowadays called "bindweed".

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Honeysuckle
Wilde kamperfoelie
Waldgeißblatt
Chèvrefeuille des bois
Caprifoglio atlantico
Madreselva de los bosques
Madressilva
Жимолость вьющаяся
Lonicera periclymenum [L.]