New York Metropolitan Flora

Lonicera dioica L. - Wild Honeysuckle,Limber Honeysuckle,Smooth-leaved Honeysuckle,Mountain Honeysuckle

Native , Occasional

By Steven D. Glenn

Not peer reviewed

Last Modified 02/01/2012

Back to Lonicera

Lonicera dioica

Common Names

Wild Honeysuckle,Limber Honeysuckle,Smooth-leaved Honeysuckle,Mountain Honeysuckle

Field Identification

Woody vine with perfoliate leaves at twig tips; yellow-orange trumpet flowers at twig tips followed by orange-red berries.

Medicinal uses

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for reference and historical use. We do not recommend nor do we condone the use of this species for medicinal purposes without first consulting a physician.

(Moerman, 1998)

Used by Native Americans to treat fever, tuberculosis, menstrual difficulties, kidney stones, dysuria, venereal disease, and worms; and used as a cathartic, diuretic, and as an emetic "to throw off effects of love medicine".

Poisonous properties

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for reference and historical use. If you believe you have been poisoned, please contact the Poison Control Office near you (look for the number in the front of the phone book).

(Burrows, 2001)

Although the berries of some species are known to be edible; generally, ingestion of the fruit causes mild to moderate nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; death is unlikely.


Lonicera dioica L., Syst. Nat. ed. 12, 2: 165. 1767.
Lonicera glauca Hill, Hort. Kew. 446, t. 18. 1768.
Lonicera media Murray, Nov. Comment. Soc. Sci. Gotting. 7: 28, t. 3. 1776.
Lonicera parviflora Lam., Encycl. Meth. Bot. 1: 728. 1785.
Caprifolium glaucum Moench., Meth. Pl. 502. 1794.
Lonicera connata Meerb., Pl. Select. Icon. P. [4], t. 11. 1798.
Caprifolium bracteosum Michx., Fl. Bor.-Am. 1: 185. 1803.
Caprifolium parviflorum Pursh, Fl. Am. Sept. 1: 161. 1814.
Caprifolium dioicum Roemer & Schultes, Syst. Veg. 5: 260. 1824.
Caprifolium dentatum Raf., Atlant. J. 1: 151. 1832.
?Lonicera elliptica Raf., New Fl. N. Am. 3: 18. 1838.
?Lonicera ovata Raf., New Fl. N. Am. 3: 18. 1838.
?Lonicera acutifolia Raf., New Fl. N. Am. 3: 19. 1838.
Lonicera dentata Raf., New Fl. N. Am. 3: 19. 1838.
Caprifolium reflexum Kirch. in Petzold & Kirch., Arb. Muscav. 428. 1864.
Lonicera reflexa hort. ex Kirch. in Petzold & Kirch., Arb. Muscav. 428. 1864.
Lonicera macrophylla rubra Carr., Rev. Hort. 1870-1: 340. 1870.
Lonicera macrophylla Hook. ex Lavallee, Arb. Segrez. 139. 1877.
Lonicera gibbosa Michx. ex Lavallee, Arb. Segrez. 139. 1877, pro syn.; non Roemer & Schultes 1819.
TYPE: unknown


HABIT Perennial, deciduous, woody vines, monoclinous, 1-3 m tall.

STEMS Main stems prostrate or climbing, round. Bark smooth, not exfoliating, light brown or yellowish green or gray. Branches erect or ascending. Twigs light brown or yellowish green or gray (occasionally purplish), terete, 1.5-4 mm in diam., smooth, glabrous, usually glaucous. Sap translucent. For a detailed analysis of the root anatomy see Gasson, 1979.

BUDS Terminal and axillary present, scattered along stem; terminal bud ovoid, pointed; axillary buds 1 per axil, ovoid, pointed. Bud scales light green or green, imbricate, glabrous. Bud scale scars not encircling the stem. Leaf scars thinly crescent-shaped. Vascular bundle scars 3.

LEAVESOpposite, simple, spaced somewhat evenly along and divergent from stem. Stipules absent. Leaves short petiolate or sessile, petiole terete, glabrous. Leaf blades: abaxial surface white (glaucous), adaxial surface green, elliptic or oblong or ovate or obovate or rhombic, bilaterally symmetric, 4-13 cm long, 1-7 cm wide, base acute or cuneate or obtuse or uppermost pair(s) connate-perfoliate. Margin entire or often undulate cartilaginous and transparent. Apex acute or obtuse; abaxial surface glabrous; adaxial surface glabrous.

INFLORESCENCESSerotinous, formed on last season's growth, bisexual, simple, terminal, 1-2 whorled spike. Peduncle 0.6-1.5 cm long, glaucous, glabrous. Rachis present. Bracts sessile, light greenish yellow, triangular, 1-1.5 mm long, margin entire, apex acute or obtuse, surfaces glabrous. Flowers sessile. Bracteoles often obsolete or 1 or 2, bracteoles: light yellowish green, obovate, 0.5-1 mm long, margin entire, apex obtuse, glabrous.

FLOWERSWith sepals and petals readily distinguishable from one another, 5-merous. Calyx actinomorphic, of fused sepals, persistent, abaxial and adaxial surfaces light yellowish green. Sepal lobes 5, triangular, 0.5-1 mm long, margin entire, apex acute or obtuse, glabrous. Corolla zygomorphic, of fused petals, deciduous, abaxial and adaxial surfaces yellowish orange or light yellow or yellow (often tinged with purple), 15-25 mm long; gibbous near base. Petal lobes 5, margin entire, apex obtuse, abaxial surface glabrous; adaxial surface with long and unbranched hairs; (rarely hairy and/or glandular on some varieties mostly encountered in areas to the west of the NYMF range). Gynoecium syncarpous. Locules 2-3. Stigmas 1, capitate. Styles 1, glabrous. Ovary inferior, glabrous. Placentation axile. Androecium epipetalous, haplostemous, inserted near the top of the corolla tube. Stamens 5; anthers opening along the long axis; filaments straight, glabrous. For a detailed analysis of the flower micro-anatomy and vascularization see Wilkinson, 1948.

FRUITS Bacca, red or orange-red, globose, 8-12 mm in diameter, glabrous.

SEEDS Seeds 3 to 8, yellow, ovoid, 3-4 mm long, 2-2.5 mm wide, glabrous, reticulate-foveate.


Dry to moist woods, banks, slopes; also alluvium and swamps.


Native to eastern North America.

United States -- AK, CT, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SD, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY.

Canada -- MB, ON, QC.

 New York Metropolitan Region -- Native, throughout the metropolitan area except Long Island.

Rarity Status

Heritage global rank -- G5

Connecticut -- Not listed

New Jersey -- S3/S4

New York -- Not listed

Species Biology

April [week 4] - June [week 2] (June [week 4])

(Graenicher, 1900)

Mellitophily -- Andrena?, Bombus, Halictus, Megachile?, Osmia
Ornithophily -- Trochilus (Hummingbird)

June [week 4] - August [week 4]

(Ingold, 1983)

Endozoochory via avian frugivores:Turdus migratorius (Robin), Catharus minima (Gray-cheeked Trush), Catharus ustulatus (Swainson's Thrush), Dumetella carolinensis (Gray Catbird), Bombycilla cedorum (Cedar Waxwing), Cardinalis cardinalis (Cardinal), Carpodacus purpureus (Purple Finch), Carduelis tristis (Goldfinch), Zonotrichia albicollis (White-throated Sparrow), Mimus polyglottus (Mockingbird), Dendroica coronata?(Yellow-rumped Warbler), Toxosoma rufum? (Brown Thrasher), Cyanociita cristata? (Blue Jay)

(Schopmeyer, 1974)

Natural germination is believed to occur in the spring following autumn/winter dispersal. This species apparently has little or no seed dormancy. Germination is epigeous. While definite information for the optimum storage of Lonicera seeds is lacking; generally, seed stored in a sealed container at 41 degrees F should remain viable for at least one year.