Honeysuckle Heaven

DSC_1568

Some people think the older yellow flowers are sweeter. I’m not partial! 

Seriously, I have to believe that there are few plants more wonder sparking that honeysuckle. Okay, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration when you take into account all the amazingly bizarre plants out there, but let’s think about it on the terms of the importance of nearby nature. It engages the senses of sight, smell, and taste, it’s usually found when you are already doing something fun in nature, it gives you a fun challenge to try to get a perfect extraction, it gives you just a little taste that keeps you coming back for more, and it grows wild all over the place. A recipe for inspiring wonder? I think so!!

DSC_1489

Fresh and delicious!

On my trip to Wilmington, NC, last weekend I was in absolute honeysuckle heaven!! It was in full bloom all over the place. We found this really great nature trail that was a city park right out our hotel that was about a mile weaving through a woodsy area in between neighborhoods that lead out to the sound. It was a great get away from the hustle and bustle.

DSC_1564

Honeysuckle is so great because it is happy growing in disturbed areas, just where you need a little treat.

DSC_1588

Growing right on the side of Wrightsville Sound

So in honor of the common Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica, I offer a step by step pictorial photo essay of how enjoyable it is to eat this sweet flower- just in case you have never experienced it! (I had never thought about someone not eating honeysuckle as a kid, but my brother-in-law is from England and he had never had it before last weekend!?!)

DSC_1503

Pick off some flowers being sure to get the whole thing, including where the pedicel attaches to the stem.

DSC_1505

See the green ball on the base, you want to get that for a perfect pick.

DSC_1508

Very carefully hold the green ball and detach it from the flower petal without breaking the stigma. This can be tricky, so don’t worry if it takes you a few tries. You can still get the juice out even if you accidentally break it off. 

This is a great fun way to have elementary kids work on motor skills!

DSC_1512

Carefully pull the stigma out without breaking it, ideally by the green ball (or pedicel). You will feel a little resistance but proceed gently.

DSC_1514

See the delicious bead of sweet “honey” juice? That is the prize. 

DSC_1526

Suck it off the stigma and enjoy the bliss!

DSC_1522

Then, pull it the rest of the way and you may get a bit more. After that, throw it on the ground and start again!

Yes, technically it is an invasive originating in Asia and arriving here in 1806. It is on the National Park Service’s Plant Conservation Alliance “least wanted” list, so I don’t feel guilty about loving it, even though others disagree about it’s invading power. Besides, eating it keeps it from reproducing, so it’s actually helping that cause!

DSC_1501

If you are concerned with the invasive qualities of the Japanese honeysuckle, plant this alternative Trumpet Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens.  Wildlife will love it! I don’t know if it’s edible- as far as I know it’s not!! Don’t eat it unless you find out for sure from an expert.

On the same topic, I have to say because this is wild food and there are less common, but still present, toxic varieties:

Disclaimer: I do not recommend ever wildcrafting or ingesting anything unless you are absolutely sure you have a correct identification of the plant and do not have allergic sensitivities.

Seeds to Sprout:

Japanese Honeysuckle plant info

In Indiana, they take a different view of honeysuckle and consider it quite invasive. Learn more about invasive plants from this PDF Invasive fact sheet.

A honeysuckle sorbet recipe

Not all honeysuckle is edible. Learn about edible varieties at Eat the Weeds

DSC_1491

Honeysuckle buds growing with wild grape

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *