Honeysuckles in the Wilderness

If you take a walk through the wilderness on campus during  spring, you may well stumble across some beautiful honeysuckles coming into flower: they’re not quite so easy to spot at this time of year (Winter) without the distinctive bloom, but are one to look out for later.

Honeysuckle infloresence, showing clearly 5 stamen protruding from the flower.

Honeysuckle infloresence, showing 5 stamen protruding from the flower.

Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum, a species found on campus, is a member of the family Caprifoliaceae, which also includes the Elders and Snowberries as well as the other honeysuckle species (Stace 2010). As a family, they are recognisable by their opposite leaves, flowers forming heads or umbels (all flowers branching from the same point), petals formed into a 5-lobed tube, with 5 stamens (the male reproductive parts) in the flower, and for the species in the British Isles, bearing a fleshy fruit.



Himalayan Honeysuckle, with purple-black berries and purple bracts

Himalayan Honeysuckle, with purple-black berries and purple bracts

To spot the Honeysuckle more specifically, look out for a twining shrub (one that coils itself around another plant or structure for support) with creamy-yellow, 4-5cm long, flowers that are trumpet-shaped and in a whorled head. The petals form two lips: the upper of which is curved upwards, and has four teeth, the lower of which has no teeth and is much simpler: the stamen protrude obviously from here. The flowers are also often pinkish-purple around the outside, and have a lovely fragrance! The fruit develops as a red globular berry.

Lonicera periclymenum is known simply as ‘Honeysuckle’, but you can also look out for Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa) on campus, which has more reddish flowers, which are later replaced by purple-black berries, that hang in long spikes surrounded by purple bracts. At the moment (January) you can still see it with the remnants of last years berries between the Lyle building and Harris Garden.

Good luck on your Honeysuckle hunt!

All ID information taken from The Wildflower Key by Rose & O’Reilly. Please feel free to use the content of this blog for personal, non-commercial, use.


Stace, C.A. 2010. New Flora of the British Isles. 3rd edition. CUP.



About Emily Sturgess

Emily is an MSc student at The University of Reading, studying Species Identification and Survey Skills. She studied for her undergraduate degree at The University of Oxford, and when she's not identifying species she enjoys photographing them.
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