Honeysuckle

ChiloquinNews article 7/25/2011

Honeysuckles, genus Lonicera, come in a surprising number of shapes and sizes of shrubs and vines. There are about 180 species of Lonicera, only about 20 of which are native to the US, while about 100 species occur in China. The rest are found in Europe and India.  There are 4 native honeysuckles for this area listed in ‘Common Plants of the Upper Klamath Basin’, three shrubs and one vine. In warmer climates, some of the introduced honeysuckles have become invasive, but our Chiloquin weather slows them down.

Honeysuckles have opposite leaves, and most are deciduous, though some are evergreen in warmer climates. The flowers have sweet, edible nectar, and are usually quite fragrant. As a child I used to pick the flowers off the vine and suck the nectar from the base of the flower. Now I am more likely to try a Honeysuckle Flower Sorbet recipe that I found on the internet. The berries can be red or a very deep blue/black, and although birds love them, many can cause digestive upsets for humans. An exception to this is Lonicera caerulea var. edulis known as Honeyberry or Sweetberry, and native to Siberia and Japan. It is a small shrub that produces deep blue edible berries that are sour when fresh, but make very tasty preserves and pies.

I have several honeysuckles in my Chiloquin garden, and all are doing extremely well here. The vines I have are Hall’s Honeysuckle and Gold Flame Honeysuckle, chosen for fragrance as well as the ability to quickly cover an area. The shrub, Lonicera syringantha  (Lilac Honeysuckle) was also chosen for fragrance. The shrub itself is a bit of a tangled mess when not in bloom. Then I have two Honeyberries, which are growing quite fast. I have two, because two are needed for cross-pollination if you want fruit, and of course, I do. The problem I have run into is that they flower at different times, so I’m looking about for a third, which might flower at the same time as one of them. I assumed that because the nursery I bought them from was selling them as a pair, that they would cross-pollinate. Not so, although one of them does self-pollinate somewhat. The flowers are frost tolerant all the way down to 19F, so even though they flower very early in spring they will still set fruit here.

The vining honeysuckles can also be used as groundcover to cover banks and slopes that have good sunlight, but they will need some water over the summer. It’s easy to propagate honeysuckle vines. Just take a cutting with several sets of leaves in the summer, strip off the bottom few leaves and root them in potting soil. I would like to find the native vine Lonicera ciliosa (Orange Honeysuckle) and give it a try. It is over there growing somewhere on the west side of Upper Klamath Lake.

 ’Honeysuckle Sorbet’

Lonicera ciliosa

Make a syrup with 1 cup water and 2 cups sugar. Boil until slightly thickened.

Add a few drops of lemon juice to the syrup, cool.

Strain the flowers and add the flower water to the syrup.

Add a tiny speck of cinnamon.

Freeze for 1 hour, then churn it up and refreeze.

 

 

 

In 3 years Gold Flame Honeysuckle vine has done a great job of filling in this screened area.

 

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