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David Watson Hood, visual artist.
The image for honeysuckle
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Honeysuckle: Lonicera periclymenum L. Caprifole, Eglantine, Lady's fingers, Lus na Meala, Iadh-shlat, Woodbind, Woodbine.


honeysuckle flowerThe scent of Honeysuckle on a hot day evokes the youth we probably did not have but imagine or wish that we did, a golden time of endless sunshine, high summer and amorous assignations in secluded country places.

The name Honeysuckle is of ancient origin and comes from the widespread practice of sucking the nectar from the flowers, although it has been suggested they are slightly poisonous in large doses. The berries are considered poisonous although they are a much used winter food for birds and small mammals.

It is of the family Caprifoliaceae as is the Elder the word indicates the fondness of goats for eating these plants.

The folk associations of Honeysuckle are mostly erotic, some attribute this to its clinging habit, I personally think it is more to do with its smell. Most flowers are a bit sexy; after all they are the sexual organs of plants evolved to be attractive to animals. Some other flowers do more to push our buttons visually but to my human male perceptions the honeysuckle has the sexiest smell in the forest. Some Victorian parents forbad the flowers from the house because of their reputation for provoking erotic dreams.

Non-medical uses of honeysuckle
The flowers are edible, although it has been suggested they are slightly poisonous in large doses. The berries are considered poisonous. Like most fibrous plants it has utility in basket making and for binding and tying things. It may have been used along with ivy and rowan as magical milk protector (hoops of the stems placed under pails etc. to prevent the milk from being stolen by malign spirits or the shidhe (faerie folk).

Medicinal uses of honeysuckle
Anti-biotic, Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Astringent, Cathartic, Depurative, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Emetic, Expectorant, Febrifuge, Laxative, Mouthwash, Skin, Vulnerary.
Definitons of medical actions

The plant has expectorant and laxative properties. A syrup made from the flowers has been used in the treatment of respiratory diseases (it also tastes good) whilst a decoction of the leaves is considered beneficial in treating diseases of the liver and spleen. It is used as a mouthwash for ulcers and is considered to be a good ingredient in gargles. The flowers are antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge and sudorific. The fruit is emetic and cathartic. The herbage is used as a cutaneous and mucous tonic and as a vulnerary. It is also diaphoretic. The leaves are laxative and slightly astringent. The seed is diuretic. The bark is anticatarrhal, depurative, diuretic and sudorific.
The leaves and flowers are rich in salicylic acid, so may be used to relieve headaches, colds, flu, fever, pain, arthritis and rheumatism. The leaves have anti-inflammatory properties and contain anti-biotic substances active against staphylococci and coli bacilli, which makes Honeysuckle a remedy for respiratory and gastro-intestinal infections. It is also useful as a decongestant.
The Russians prepare an oil which is used against tumours and chronic pain.

Sources:
Plants For A Future, www.pfaf.org/index.html,
Flora Celtica, www.floraceltica.com/, Flora Celtica is an international project based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, documenting and promoting the knowledge and sustainable use of native plants in the Celtic countries and regions of Europe.

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