limber honeysuckle

(Lonicera dioica)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

limber honeysuckle

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

Nativity

Native

 
Occurrence

Common but not abundant

 
Habitat

Moist. Forest edges and clearings, thickets, lakeshores, river banks. Partial or full sun.

 
Flowering

Mid-May to early June

     
Flower Color

Purplish

     
Height

3 to 9 long

     

Identification

This is a perennial vine or semi-erect shrub. It usually climbs over adjacent vegetation or sprawls on the ground. Occasionally, it forms a mound of arching stems.

The stems are climbing, sprawling, or semi-erect and arching. They are round, up to ¾ in diameter, and can be 3 to 9 long but are usually 5 to 6½ long. First-year branches are greenish, hairless, and usually covered with a whitish, waxy bloom (glaucous). Second-year branches are gray or brown. The bark of mature stems is gray or brown with long, fibrous, shredded, peeling strips. The buds are egg-shaped and pointed. The leaf scars are thin and crescent-shaped with 3 vascular bundle scars.

The leaves are opposite and variable in shape; oblong, elliptic, or inversely egg-shaped. The larger leaves are 2 to 3½ long, and 1¼ to 2¾ wide. They are rounded or blunt at the tip and tapered or rounded at the base. They may be stalkless or on leaf stalks up to long. The upper surface of the leaf blade is dark green and hairless. The lower surface is bluish or whitish, glaucous, and is usually moderately to densely hairy, occasionally hairless. The margins are untoothed, often wavy, and do not have a fringe of long hairs.

On flowering stems the uppermost pair of leaves is fused together at the base into a single disk-like leaf. The tip of each fused leaf is tapered to a point or is rounded and has a tiny, short, sharp, abrupt point. The upper surface is green and is not glaucous.

The inflorescence is 1 to 3 whorls of 6 stalkless flowers per whorl on a single spike (rarely 3 spikes) at the end of the stem. The whorls are not separated and the flowers are crowded.

The flowers are to 1 long and are strongly symmetrical, so that a plane dividing the flower in two would produce one side that is a mirror image of the other. There are 5 petals fused at the base into a corolla tube then separated to ½ of the way to the base into 2 lips. The upper lip is divided into 4 shallow lobes, the lower lip is undivided. The petals are purple, red, or, rarely, yellow tinged with purple or red. There are 5 stamens with yellow anthers and a style with a light green, head-like stigma. The stamens and style protrude well beyond the corolla tube. The flowers appear on last season’s stems after the leaves are fully developed and peak from mid-May to early June. In Minnesota they are pollinated by ruby-throated hummingbird and bumble bees.

The fruit is a soft, globular, 5 16 to ½ in diameter berry. It is green initially, becoming orange, ultimately red or orange-red when ripe. They do not fall but remain on the plant until picked off by birds or they dry on the plant. It matures in late June to early August.

 
Similar
Species

Grape honeysuckle (Lonicera reticulata) leaves are nearly circular. The upper 2 or 3 pairs of leaves are fused at the base into single disk-like leaves. The upper surface of the fused leaves is often glaucous and bluish. The flower whorls are normally separated from one another. The flowers are pale yellow. In Minnesota it is found only in the southeast.

Hairy honeysuckle (Lonicera hirsuta) leaves are narrowly elliptic. The upper leaf surface is velvety-hairy. The leaf margins have a fringe of long hairs. The flowers are yellow.


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 28.

Comments

Habitat

This plant is found in exposed areas where its red or purple flowers can be seen by hummingbirds and its brightly colored red or orange-red fruit can be seen by fruit-eating birds.

 

Taxonomy

Some sources (Gleason & Cronquist, 1991) separate this species into four varieties, two of which occur in Minnesota. Lonicera dioica var. glaucescens, described above, has a moderately to densely hairy lower leaf surface. Lonicera dioica var. dioica has a hairless lower leaf surface. The Minnesota DNR recognizes this separation of varieties. Other sources (Steyermark, 2006) state that there is a complete intergradation of the distinguishing characteristics and reject the separation. The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) on-line database, http://www.itis.gov, curiously recognizes only one variety, Lonicera dioica var. dioica, treating all other varieties as synonyms of the species Lonicera dioica.


Taxonomy

Family:

Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle)

 

Subfamily:

Caprifolioideae

 
Synonyms

Lonicera dioica var. dasygyna

Lonicera dioica var. douglasii

Lonicera dioica var. glaucescens

Lonicera dioica var. orientalis

Lonicera glaucescens

Lonicera glaucescens var. dasygyna

Lonicera hirsuta var. glaucescens

Lonicera parviflora

Lonicera parviflora var. douglasii

 
Common
Names

Douglas’ honeysuckle

glaucous honeysuckle

glaucous-leaved honeysuckle

limber honeysuckle

mountain honeysuckle

red honeysuckle

small honeysuckle

smooth-leaved honeysuckle

twining honeysuckle

wild honeysuckle


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

corolla

A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.

 

glaucous

Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.

       

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About

Published on Jul 9, 2012

Limber honeysuckle shrubs in bloom in the East Kootenays.

 
     

 

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