Honeysuckle Bush and Vines-- Over 100 Species Found in China
The aroma of honeysuckle fills your nostrils when you get close to this wonderful bush or, in my case, the twining vines. It is a fond memory of summertime as a child.
As a child, I recognized the value of a treat and I knew this was a free food source. My friends, siblings, and I spent hours during each week sampling the nectar of the honeysuckle flower.
There was more appreciation for the honeysuckle than for a candy treat because the honeysuckle went away after a few months. If you did not take advantage while they were blooming, you missed the beauty and wonderful taste.
These bushes are also food for hummingbirds and butterflies.
Until I did research for this article, I did not realize that some people made honeysuckle wine. I forgot that people will try to make wine out of everything that is plant based. One honeysuckle wine maker said, “Do not use the seed as it is poisonous”. But further research shows that some of the berries (seeds) are mildly poisonous and others are safe to eat. Who would want to take a chance? Not me!!
And I realized that if wine can be made; there is someone who will make a jelly using the flowers of the honeysuckle vines or bush. I also would not rule out someone attempting ice cream, either. There are herbal teas that are made with honeysuckle.
The honeysuckle bushes or twining vines are also used as an indicator for the fisherman. They know as soon as the flowers appear on the vines that they are going to catch their limit of fish. Until the honeysuckle blooms disappear, it will be a fisherman’s paradise.
I thought all honeysuckle bushes and vines were wild native plants that grow naturally. It was a surprise to me that you can purchase cultivated plants from a nursery or order online. There are 180 species of honeysuckle; 100 are found in China and 20 species each are found in Europe and North America.
The most widely known species are the Lonicera periclymenum (European Honeysuckle or Woodbine Honeysuckle), Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle, Chinese Honeysuckle, or White Honeysuckle), and Lonicera Sempervirens (Coral Honeysuckle, Trumpet Honeysuckle, or Woodbine Honeysuckle).
The leaves of the honeysuckle vines or bush are mostly deciduous (meaning that the leaves will fall off at maturity) but some are evergreen (the leaves are there through all seasons). The leaves are 1-10cm long, are opposite, and are oval in shape. Some of the species can become invasive, like the twining honeysuckle that I see if our area.
Many of the honeysuckle have fragrant bell-shaped flowers that produce sweet, edible nectar. When you break the stem, it will release this sweet odor and sucking on the bottom part of the flower will release the nectar.
Some honeysuckle species, like the vines, will work as ground cover. Honeysuckle vine works well on banks and slopes that have good sunlight. Some species are planted to help prevent ground erosion. If the twining vines are not managed, they can choke out nearby plants.
Honeysuckle is also used for medicinal purposes in herbal cough medicines. Honeysuckle is one of the oldest herbs known. It has been used in Europe to treat breathing problems and urinary problems. It has been used in traditional Chinese herbal medicines for thousands of years in a variety of medical issues. It is believed to release poisons in the body and to release heat. The flowers, the buds, and the stems are used in herbal medicines.