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Honeysuckle

HONEYSUCKLE (Mid. Eng., honysode, i.e. any plant from which honey may be sucked, cf. A.-S. huni-suge, privet; Ger. Geissblatt; Fr. chewefeuille) , botanical name Lonicera, a genus of climbing, erect or prostrate shrubs, of the natural order Caprifoliaceae, so named after the 16th-century German botanist Adam Lonicer. The British species is L. Peridymenum, the woodbine; L. Caprifolium and L. Xylosteum are naturalized in a few counties in the south and east of England. Some of the garden varieties of the woodbine are very beautiful, and are held in high esteem for their delicious fragrance, even the wild plant, with its pale flowers, compensating for its sickly looks " with never-cloying odours." The North American subevergreen L. sempervirens, with its fine heads of blossoms, commonly called the trumpet honeysuckle, the most handsome of all the cultivated honeysuckles, is a distinct and beautiful species producing both scarlet and yellow flowered varieties, and the Japanese L. flexuosa var. aureoreticidata is esteemed for its charmingly variegated leaves netted with golden yellow. The fly honeysuckle, L. Xylosteum, a hardy shrub of dwarfish, erect habit, and L. tatarica, of similar habit, both European, are amongst the oldest English garden shrubs, and bear axillary flowers of various colours, occurHoneysuckle. (a) Flowering branch ; ring two on a peduncle. (6) flower, nat. size; (c) fruit, slightly There are numerous reduced. other species, many of them introduced to our gardens, and well worth cultivating in shrubberies or as climbers on walls and bowers, either for their beauty or the fragrance of their blossoms.

In the western counties of England, and generally by agriculturists, the name honeysuckle is applied to the meadow clover, Trifolium pratense. Another plant of the same family ( Leguminosae) Hedysarum coronarium, a very handsome hardy biennial often seen in old-fashioned collections of garden plants, is commonly called the French honeysuckle. The name is moreover applied with various affixes to several other totally different plants. Thus white honeysuckle and false honeysuckle are names for the North American Azalea viscosa; Australian or heath honeysuckle is the Australian Banksia serrata, Jamaica honeysuckle, Passiflora laurifolia, dwarf honeysuckle the widely spread Cornus suecica, Virgin Mary's honeysuckle the European Pulmonaria officinalis, while West Indian honeysuckle is Tecoma capensis, and is also a name applied to Desmodium.

The wood of the fly honeysuckle is extremely hard, and the clear portions between the joints of the stems, when their pith has been removed, were stated by Linnaeus to be utilized in Sweden for making tobacco-pipes. The wood is also employed to make teeth for rakes; and, like that of L. talarica, it is a favourite material for walking-sticks.

Honeysuckles (Lonicera) flourish in any ordinary garden soil, but are usually sadly neglected in regard to pruning. This should be done about March, cutting out some of the old wood, and shortening back some of the younger growths of the preceding year. (J. Ws.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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