Honeysuckle refers to a diverse group of flowering vines that grow throughout most of Asia, Europe, and the Americas. In fact there are about 180 different species in the genus Lonicera, with the majority of the species present in China. You will only find Honeysuckle in the Northern Hemisphere of earth. No varieties have been found in the Southern Hemisphere.
Many people enjoy the honeysuckle because you can take the trumpet-like flowers off the vines and sip the nectar from the bottom of the flower. The nectar is safe to consume, but other parts of the honeysuckle may not be. In particular, many honeysuckle plants produce berries that are poisonous, with a few exceptions. For safety purposes, never eat the plant’s berries unless you know for certain that they are one of the few non-toxic types.
Honeysuckle is relished as a climbing vine, and because most varieties have a sweet, honey-like fragrance when in bloom. Houses with trellises of honeysuckle are considered pleasant to the olfactory and aesthetic senses. Well-established vines can easily climb up to the top of a tall house, especially if they are planted in a partial sun/shade environment.
The flowers of the honeysuckle tend to have a bell or trumpet shape and come in a variety of colors and sizes. One of the most popular in Europe, called the woodbine or L. periclymenum produces pink or creamy yellow flowers that grow in clusters. Shakespeare refers to the woodbine as a flower connected to lust and sensuality, and some may still associate this particular variety with lustiness. It might therefore not be a great flower for a first date, especially as a gift to anyone with an interest in flower symbolism.
You’ll find lots of varieties of honeysuckle to purchase and plant in colors that range from pure white to deep blue. Many gardeners favor blue or purple varieties since they are known attractors for hummingbirds, butterflies and moths. Be certain to check with your local gardening store regarding how aggressive the species you choose is. Some honeysuckle varieties are classed as invasive species and are known as garden pests, especially in Europe and the US. Japanese Honeysuckle is one of the worst offenders, and may easily choke out other plants in a garden.