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A twining shrub scrambling in the wild over bushes and hedgerows; stems often over 20 ft long, hollow when young, downy or glabrous. Leaves ovate, oval, or obovate, more or less tapered at the base, mostly pointed, sometimes blunt, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long. 1 to 11⁄2 in. wide, green above, rather glaucous beneath, slightly downy or glabrous, lower pairs of leaves stalked, uppermost ones almost or quite stalkless, but never united as in L. caprifolium. Flowers yellowish white and red in varying proportions, produced in a series of close whorls at the end of the shoot, forming a terminal stalked inflorescence. Corolla 11⁄2 to 2 in. long, two-lipped, the tube slender, tapering, glandular-downy outside. Berries red.
The common woodbine, best known of British species, reaches eastward to Asia Minor, the Caucasus, and W. Asia. No wild plant adds more to the charm of our hedgerows and thickets in July and August than this, especially in the cool dewy morning or evening when the fragrance of its blossoms is richest. Of several varieties, the following are the most noteworthy:
cv. ‘Belgica’. – In an interesting note, Kenneth Beckett remarks that about half the plants he has seen in gardens as ‘Belgica’ or ‘Serotina’, but especially the former, are actually L. × americana (The Garden (Journ. R.H.S.), Vol. 109, pp. 213-14(1984)).
† cv. ‘Graham Thomas’. – The original plant of this clone was found around 1960 in a Warwickshire hedgerow. It is exceptionally vigorous and if cut back in winter will flower from June to October.
cv. ‘Serotina’. – Plants now widely grown in Dutch nurseries are not the true clone, but derive from a wild plant found by a Dutch nurseryman in the 1960s on Texel in the Frisian islands. The merit of this usurper is said to be that it grows more freely than the usual commercial clone, although it is inferior in the colouring of the flowers. It appears too that the old ‘Serotina’ is now being marketed as ‘Florida’. We are indebted to Roy Lancaster for this information, which was given by the Dutch horticultural botanist Harry van de Laar. This false ‘Serotina’ is certainly being sold in Britain.
The fact that a passable imitation of the old ‘Serotina’ should have been collected in the wild in Holland suggests that both this and ‘Belgica’ belong to a wild-occurring race, since both came from the Low Countries in the 18th century.