Chaparral Honeysuckle

Chaparral honeysuckle (Lonicera interrupta) is a native vine or shrub found in the chaparral and ponderosa pine forests of Oregon, California and Arizona. Although this perennial prefers elevations from 4,000 ft to 6,000 ft, it does grow at lower elevations, particularly in California.

The main stem is woody and can be erect, sprawling, climbing, twining or shrubby. The simple, opposite, sessile (without a stalk) leaves are often fused around the stem (perfoliate).

The chaparral honeysuckle inflorescence is a long, interrupted spike – the cream to yellow flowers are arranged in separate whorls at the end of the stem. The corolla (petals collectively) is tubular and five-lobed. The five stamens extend from the rolled-back lips of the corolla. Thickenings, which  are nectaries, occur at the base of the floral tube and produce a swelling on one side at the base of the corolla.

The fruit is a bright red berry.

Chaparral honeysuckle provides browse for deer, nectar for hummingbirds and berries for birds.

Native Americans used a poultice of chaparral honeysuckle roots to relieve swelling. Sores and “sore eyes” were treated with a honeysuckle leaf infusion.

The genus name, Lonicera, honors the German botanist, Adam Lonitzer (1528 – 1586). The species, interrupta, refers to the interrupted flower whorls in the inflorescence

The flowering chaparral honeysuckle was photographed on a trail to Crystal Lake in June while the berries were growing along Burney Creek in Burney Falls State Park last October (both in Shasta County CA).


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