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
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
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.
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
Plants For A Future,
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