The Honeysuckle Family

Himalayan Honeysuckle Common Snowberry Himalayan Honeysuckle Weigela

What are they?

The honeysuckle family consists mostly of woody shrubs and climbers with quite a range of variation in the appearance of the flowers and of the plants as a whole. The true honeysuckles in the genus Lonicera are covered on separate pages for shrubby honeysuckles and climbing honeysuckles, while this page covers members of the family in other genera. The flowers tend mostly to be carried in clusters at or towards the tips of the branches; the flowers have five petals which are fused into a tube at the base and usually open towards the mouth.

Where are they found?

None of these plants are native to East Anglia, so they are most likely to be found as relics of cultivation or where garden waste may have been dumped. Some species are widely used as amenity plants or planted in private woodlands for pheasant cover. in the latter case, these species can be common in certain areas and easily presumed to be native. Given the choice, most are plants of woodland edge with at least sone shade, or will be found along the side of shady lanes.

Identification

All these species are deciduous, but often have a tendency to keep at least some leaves during mild winters - a trait that is common within this family. Common to this family too, is a tendency for vigorous, non-flowering shoots to bear leaves with lobed margins and such leaves should not be unexpected. These shrubs are generally quite easy to identify by a combination of leaf shape and flower detail.



Common Snowberry      Symphoricarpos albus

Introduced from western North America as a garden ornamental and extensively used for pheasant cover, especially in Breckland. Now widespread in places where it has spread from original plantings. Flowers June to September. A suckering shrub that forms dense colonies of shoots, usually 1-2m in height. Leaves 2.5-8cm long. Flowers small (5-6mm long), in tight clusters. The large white berries (9-15mm across) are very distinctive and easily recognised.

Common Snowberry Common Snowberry Common Snowberry Common Snowberry
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Common Snowberry Common Snowberry Common Snowberry Common Snowberry
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Hybrid Coralberry      Symphoricarpos x chenaultii

A hybrid of cultivated origin and commonly used in amenity and landscape projects (as the cultivar 'Hancock'), from where it commonly spreads into neighbouring land. Flowers July to August. A low, sprawling, suckering shrub with branches that root at the tips, usually 1-2m in height. Leaves 1-2cm long. Flowers small (3-6mm long), in tight clusters. Berries variously tinged pink, 4-7mm across. Differs from Common Snowberry in being more prostrate with smaller leaves and smaller fruits.

(Note: plants with larger pink fruits (12-13mm across) may be the hybrid Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii which has not yet been recorded in the wider countryside in East Anglia).

Hybrid Coralberry Hybrid Coralberry Hybrid Coralberry Hybrid Coralberry
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Hybrid Coralberry Hybrid Coralberry Hybrid Coralberry Hybrid Coralberry
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Himalayan Honeysuckle      Leycesteria formosa

(Pheasant-berry) Introduced from the Himalayas as a garden ornamental and now quite commonly found in urban areas where bird-sown and growing from cracks in walls and pavements or on rough ground. Flowers July to September. An upright, leafy plant with hollow stems that often have a bluish bloom on them. White flowers have large, reddish-purple bracts and hang in long clusters at the branch tips.

Himalayan Honeysuckle Himalayan Honeysuckle Himalayan Honeysuckle Himalayan Honeysuckle
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Himalayan Honeysuckle Himalayan Honeysuckle Himalayan Honeysuckle Himalayan Honeysuckle
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Weigela      Weigela florida

Introduced from China as a garden ornamental and once recorded from Cambridgeshire. Flowers May to June. A straggly shrub to 2.5m in height. Unusually for this family, the fruits are a dry capsule rather than a fleshy berry. This species is probably now uncommon in cultivation and has largely been replaced by a range of hybrid varieties, often with dark red flowers or variegated leaves.

Weigela Weigela Weigela Weigela
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Weigela Weigela Weigela Weigela
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