Limber Honeysuckle

Lonicera dioica

Limber_Honeysuckle_Lonicera_dioica.jpg

Illustration of limber honeysuckle leaves, flowers, fruits.
Limber honeysuckle (wild honeysuckle; red honeysuckle) (Lonicera dioica)
Paul Nelson
Other Common Name
Wild Honeysuckle; Red Honeysuckle
Family

Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckles)

Description

Limber honeysuckle is a woody, loosely twining vine that sprawls or climbs on nearby vegetation.

Flowers are stalkless, in clusters at the branch tips; the corolla (the fused, tubelike petals) divided 1/3 or 1/2 of the way to the base into 2 lips of equal length that curl back; the upper lip shallowly 4-lobed, the lower lip with 1 lobe; the tube weakly swollen or pouched on the lower side near the base; white to lemon yellow, tinged with red, purple, or pink, not changing color after pollination.

Blooms April–June.

Leaves opposite, simple, upper pair just below the flowers united to form a disk that is longer than broad, upper surface green or barely whitened; leaves below the disk not united; lower surface covered with a white waxy coating, smooth or hairy.

Fruits berries, orangish-red to red.

Key Identifiers
  • Flowers in crowded clusters
  • Flowers tubular
  • Flowers yellow or greenish-yellow, tinged with red, purple, or pink
  • Flowers noticeably enlarged on one side at the base
  • Upper pair of leaves, just below the flowers, are united to form a disk that is longer than broad; the uppersurface green or barely whitened; leaves below the disk not united.
Size

Vine length: to 13 feet.

Habitat and conservation

Bases and ledges of bluffs, upland forests, rocky banks of streams and rivers, rarely also along fence rows and thickets.

image of Limber Honeysuckle Wild Honeysuckle Red Honeysuckle distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Uncommon and widely scattered in the state.

Human connections

Beautiful, fragrant flowers, attractiveness to hummingbirds, and hardiness make honeysuckles popular in landscaping. Two of our worst invasive plants are introduced exotic honeysuckles, but this native species is not one of them. It does well as a trellis vine in the native landscape garden.

Ecosystem connections

The deep, tubular flowers provide nectar to pollinators able to reach inside. Hummingbirds have long, pointy bills and extendable tongues for this purpose. Several species of birds and mammals eat honeysuckle fruits in the fall. Deer browse the stems and leaves.