Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Scent of Honeysuckle

My first summer in the Shire,
my dearest and I took a drive along Route 17,
heading south along the Dismal Swamp Canal towards Camden County, North Carolina.
I was enchanted with the deep woods along the Canal and, most particularly,
the massive banks of honeysuckle vine
that blanketed the undergrowth and appeared to go on for miles.
The afternoon was humid and very still,
and the smell of the yellow honeysuckle's perfume permeated the air.

The scent of honeysuckle blossoms is one of my favorites,
so I was happy to see that the fragrant yellow blossoms were back again this week.
Honeysuckle is native to the Shire, although it turns out
that the yellow and white blossoms I have enjoyed for years
are not from our native plant.
They are an Asian variety, one that is considered invasive.

Here are two examples.
The first is an Asian honeysuckle overtaking the marsh grass along the Elizabeth River:

And in this one, a non-native honeysuckle cascades over a ligustrum hedge:

I must say I was a bit disappointed to learn 
that the honeysuckle I've loved is an unwelcome guest,
one as careless and destructive as kudzu.
The honeysuckle native to Virginia,  lonicera sempervirens,
blooms with a coral-red or a bright lemony yellow trumpet flower.
Its blossoms form fans of narrow trumpets that hang straight down,
and it has black or red berries in the autumn.
It is on the endangered plants list.

Here is a newer cultivar of honeysuckle,
but the star-shaped flowers don't look like the native plant.

To see a photo of the native trumpet honeysuckle, click on this link:

Alas--just when I think I've found a plant born and bred in the south,
it turns out not to be so. And worst, of course, is the knowledge
that the yellow and white imported honeysuckle, lonicera Japonica
is considered a noxious weed, one threatening to supplant our native species
and to eventually change the very nature of our forests.

Here is a vine weaving its way through the trees:

Dear honeysuckle, I guess what they say about you is true.
Oh well. As Gandhi said, "Hate the sin. Love the sinner."
And I do.

1 comment:

SecretMae said...

I love honeysuckle. Its scent it my favorite flower smell. I have lotions, perfumes, and even found a few shower gels with a honeysuckle scent. Alas... no shampoo yet, I live in a small state. lol. So anyway I knew that honeysuckle will take over and spread like wild fire, but didn't know that it was so unwanted. How sad! What about dandelions and other types of flowers that "people" say are weeds. They look like beautiful flowers to me, so who was the first to call them a weed and unwanted? Its silly. I will always love honeysuckle lol.