Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)
Honeysuckle flowers have one of the sweetest scents of all British wild flowers. The scent is strongest at night to attract pollinating moths.
Common name: honeysuckle
Scientific name: Lonicera periclymenum
What does honeysuckle look like?
A woody climber, by twining around shrubs or trees the honeysuckle can reach a height of up to 6m. It creates a sweet, heady scent that wafts on the breeze, attracting wildlife and humans alike.
Flowers: the cream trumpet-like flowers become orange buff, often reddish outside. They are two lipped with the upper lip having four lobes.
Leaves: oval leaves which have no or very short stalks.
Fruit: clusters of red berries which ripen in autumn.
Not to be confused with...
There are many species of honeysuckle, with many introduced species which have become naturalised throughout Britain. Some species are garden escapees and can be invasive.
Where and when can you find honeysuckle?
Where: it can be found in woodland and along hedgerows, twining itself around shrubs and trees for support. The interweaving stems help this arboreal species stay off the more dangerous woodland floor. Common throughout the British Isles.
When: its red-tinted blooms appear from June to September and red berries ripen in late summer to autumn.
Value to wildlife
Butterflies: the white admiral butterfly is a declining species that relies specifically on honeysuckle. White admiral caterpillars exclusively feed on honeysuckle. You can see adult white admirals gliding along woodland rides from June to August.
Dormice: use honeysuckle for both shelter and food. Dormice use honeysuckle bark to build nests for their summer young but they also eat the sweet, nectar-rich flowers as a reliable source of energy.
Bumblebees: the nectar of the honeysuckle flower is prized by bumblebees that are important pollinators.
Moths: at night the sweet smell of honeysuckle is strongest and attracts pollinating moths, such as the distinctive hummingbird hawk moth. Moths can detect the scent a quarter of a mile away.
Birds: red berries ripen on the plant in late summer to autumn. These attractive clusters are eaten by birds including thrushes, warblers and bullfinches.
Ornamental: honeysuckle is a popular addition to gardens, bringing beauty and wildlife.
Walking sticks: as the honeysuckle entwines itself around branches the branches themselves become twisted. These make beautiful walking sticks and were once highly popular with Scots music hall performers.
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