Thursday, June 09, 2016

European Honeysuckle (Woodbine) / Vild Kaprifolium (Gedeblad)

Lonicera periclymenum
The name after the genus Lonicera was given to the honeysuckle family by Carl Linneaeus (1707-78), the Swedish botanish, with honour of the German botanist Adam Loncer (1528-86). There are about 180 species of Lonicera. The Common honeysuckle (Danish: Vild Kaprifolie) has creamy white or yellowish flowers and red berries. The plant is usually pollinated by moths or long-tongued bees and develops bright red berries. Many of the species have sweetly-scented bell-shaped flowers that produce a sweet edible nectar. The powerful aroma attracts bees, moths, humming-bees and butterflies to its sweet nectar. Some lepidoptera species feed on honeysuckle. Some Loniceras have poisonous yellow or black berries.
Svinkløv Strand, North West Jutland photo: gb

woodbine on willow caused by Lonicera
Honeysuckle is a deciduous liana which together with ivory is the liana of the forest, twining around bushes and trees - but honeysuckle is in all its pretty variations popular in the garden for its sweet scent and it is great for covering fences and garden arches because of its fast growing - and it combines well with clematis. Other names for honeysuckle include woodbine, fairy trumpets, honeybind, trumpet flowers, goats leaf and sweet suckle. The old name woodbine describes the twisting binding nature of the honeysuckle through the hedgerows. 

Typical twining of Lonicera (wikipedia)
L. periclymenum is one of several honeysuckle species valued in the garden, for its ability to twine around other plants, or to cover unsightly walls or outbuildings; and for the intense fragrance of its profuse flowers in summer. It needs to be planted with its roots in the shade, and its flowering top in sun or light shade. Plants need to be chosen with care as they can grow to a substantial size. Growing to 7 m (23 ft) or more in height, it is a vigorous evergreen twining climber. It is found as far north as southern Norway and Sweden. In the UK it is one of two native honeysuckles, the other being Lonicera xylosteum It is often found in woodland or in hedgerows or scrubland.

The tough wood has been used for walking sticks and pipe stems. The charcoal was used for gun powder. The dried flowers are used for adding to pot-pourri, herb-pillows and floral waters. Scented cosmetics are made from the fresh flowers. The flowers can also be used in lemonade, decoration in desserts an pastry.

Lonicera on tree, wikipedia.
Honeysuckle (woodbine)  has been a valued part of Britain's ecology for centuries. It is mentioned by Shakespeare:
"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxclips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine
British rock band Dire Straits mentions Honeysuckle in the opening lines of their 1980 song " Expresso Love":
"She gets the sun in the daytime
Perfume in the dusk
And she comes out in the night time
With a honeysuckle musk"
The plant was voted the County flower of Warwickshire in 2002 following a poll by the wild plant conservation charity Plantlife.

Medicinal use in the Middle Ages:
red berries, Lonicera (wikipedia)
Culpeper stated that only the leaves of the honeysuckle were used medicinal to treat coughs, sore throat and for opening obstruction of the liver and spleen. Honeysuckle can be found in a Chinese herbal which is the earliest known existing pharmacopoeia written in AD 659. The Chinese used honeysuckle japonica as a cleanser and for removing poisons from the body.

Legend and Superstition
Honeysuckle has long been a symbol of fidelity and affection and there is much superstition attached to it. In Scotland it was believed that if honeysuckle grows around the entrance to the house it would prevent a witch from entering. It was also a promise of money. According to old superstition people had to put the first flower of a honeysuckle in the purse then it would never be empty -and if people brought the flower into their house then it would bring money to them.
There was also a promise to the garden people that if honeysuckle grew well in their garden they would be protected from evil.

In Victorian era there was a ban on young girls bringing honeysuckle into the house because it was believed to cause dreams that were far to risqué for their sensibilities.

photo 2008: grethe bachmann, Svinkløv, North Jutland
photo: wikipedia

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