So many things are already known about June’s main birth flower, the rose, that we’re taking a different tack this time to talk about the second birth flower for the month of June – honeysuckle! There are over 180 varieties identified in North America and Eurasia, the most common in the U.S. being Japanese honeysuckle The vine derives its name from the honey taste of the edible flower, and the sweet fragrance of some of the cultivars.
Honeysuckle began to be used as ornamental covering for unsightly garden buildings, walls, and trees in the 1850’s in the U.S., but quickly became an invasive species due to growers not cutting the vines back regularly. It’s a beautiful, fragrant flower, but needs regular pruning to control it, much like mint.
The Greek myth of Daphnis and Chloe contributes to the history of honeysuckle: they both lived so far away, they could only see each other while the honeysuckle bloomed. Daphnis asked the gods if they could extend the growing period of honeysuckle so he and Chloe could spend more time together, so that’s why honeysuckle blooms continually through the warm months.
In some countries, bringing honeysuckle into the house means there will be a wedding within the year. In Scotland, hanging the vines of honeysuckle on a barn will prevent cattle from becoming bewitched.
The flowers come in a multitude of colors, not just the white and yellow wild honeysuckle we’re used to. Pink, red, orange, and blush explode in profusion over the vines of many different garden varieties. Any online garden catalog of repute, like Jackson and Perkins, will offer these unusual colors to grow in your own backyard!
Honeysuckle figures prominently in Chinese medicine; it was used as a remedy for snakebite. Apothecaries in Europe in the medieval era discovered that honeysuckle was antispasmodic, antibacterial, and was good for taming inflammation. The stems were eaten and brewed as tea to combat mumps, hepatitis, dysentery, arthritis, and pneumonia. The flowers were commonly used to cure skin diseases, tumors, rashes, and sores from the Middle Ages all the way up to the late 1800s. Basically all parts of the honeysuckle vine are used medicinally. Truly a panacea of flowers!
There’s nothing better than growing a stand of honeysuckle outside your bedroom window! The scent wafting on the air on a sleepy spring morning is utterly dreamy! Just make sure you trim it back regularly, ha ha!
Happy Birthday, June babies!