Quick facts

Common names: honeysuckle, woodbine

Scientific name: Lonicera periclymenum

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Origin: native

Flowering season: June to September

Habitat: woodland and hedgerows

What does honeysuckle look like?

Leaves: deep green and oval with no or very short stalks. Leaves are arranged in pairs opposite each other.

Flowers: cream, trumpet-like flowers which turn yellow-orange, often with a red or pink flush.

Fruit: clusters of red berries which ripen in autumn.

Not to be confused with: the many different species of honeysuckle. Some have been introduced to Britain and have now become naturalised, whereas others are garden escapees and can be invasive.

Honeysuckle flower

Credit: WTML

Where to find honeysuckle

Honeysuckle grows in woodland and along hedgerows, weaving through shrubs and trees. It is common and widespread throughout the British Isles.

Value to wildlife

Honeysuckle is hugely valuable to wildlife, supporting several species, many of which are rare. Butterflies, such as the white admiral (which is in decline), rely specifically on honeysuckle, and it is also prized by bumblebees.

Pollinating moths are attracted to the sweet scent of honeysuckle at night, when it is strongest; and birds, including thrushes, warblers and bullfinches, eat the berries when they ripen in late summer and autumn. Dormice also rely on honeysuckle for both shelter and food. They use honeysuckle bark to build nests for their summer young, but also eat the sweet, nectar-rich flowers as a source of energy.

Honeysuckle twisted branch

Credit: Laurie Campbell / WTML

Mythology and symbolism

It was once believed that if honeysuckle grew around a home’s entrance, it would bring good luck and stop any evil spirits from entering. It has also long been considered a symbol of fidelity, and in Victorian times young girls were banned from bringing honeysuckle into the house because it was believed the strong smell would make them have suggestive dreams!

Honeysuckle berries fruit

Credit: Rosanna Ballentine / WTML

Uses of honeysuckle

Honeysuckle has been used to make beautiful walking sticks which were once popular with Scots music hall performers. They were created as the honeysuckle entwined itself around branches, causing the branches themselves to become twisted.
While the berries are poisonous, the leaves, flowers and seeds have been used for medicinal purposes for a variety of conditions.

Honeysuckle flower

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