Flowers, perhaps more than any other part of the natural world, are fascinating because of the many layers of meaning people have shrouded them in throughout history.
There is a whole sub-category of etiquette surrounding which flowers are appropriate to give at what times, and to whom. The unending rules surrounding something so simple as a flower can be dizzying.
Another aspect of flower lore concerns the designated flowers for each month of the year. What many people don’t realize is that most months actually have two official flowers. Last year, we looked at one of June’s official flowers, the rose. The other is honeysuckle.
Honeysuckle refers to any of about 180 shrubs and vines from the genus Lonicera.
Native to the Northern Hemisphere, honeysuckles feature oval leaves and sweet, strongly scented, bell-shaped flowers. The sweet smell is not confined to the flowers, but also infuses the leaves and twigs of the plant, which releases a fragrance if crushed or broken. The flowers come in a variety of colors — from white to yellow, orange, red or pink and have edible nectar that is irresistible to butterflies and hummingbirds.
Though some species of honeysuckle are native to North America, many others were imported here and are now considered invasive species. In Britain, honeysuckle is popularly known as “woodbine” or “woodbind.”
According to the secret language of flowers employed during the Victorian era, honeysuckle represents devotion and unity in love. One old belief surrounding honeysuckle was that if the plant were brought into a house, a wedding would shortly follow.
Traditionally, honeysuckle was used to treat fevers, colds, asthma, dysentery, and diarrhea, and it is still an ingredient in herbal cold remedies.