Lonicera periclymenum L.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Lonicera periclymenum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/lonicera/lonicera-periclymenum/). Accessed 2024-04-22.

Common Names

  • Woodbine
  • Honeysuckle


The inner whorl of the perianth. Composed of free or united petals often showy.
Organism arising via vegetative or asexual reproduction.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Bearing glands.
Grey-blue often from superficial layer of wax (bloom).
Flower-bearing part of a plant; arrangement of flowers on the floral axis.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Lonicera periclymenum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/lonicera/lonicera-periclymenum/). Accessed 2024-04-22.

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, 112 to 212 in. long. 1 to 112 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 112 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:

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

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.

'Belgica' Dutch Honeysuckle

Of more bushy habit; stems purplish and, like the leaves, glabrous. Flowers purplish red outside, fading to yellowish; yellow within. This honeysuckle probably originated in the Low Countries, and has been cultivated in Britain since the 17th century (Periclymenum germanicum Mill.; L. periclymenum var. belgica Ait.).

f. quercina (West.) Rehd

Leaves lobed after the fashion of those of the common oak. Occasionally found in the wild and first recorded in Britain in the 17th century.


The plant known to Philip Miller as the Flemish or Late Red honeysuckle bore its flowers late in the summer in ‘close bunches’ over a period of not much more than a fortnight, during which time they made a finer display than the Dutch variety (Gard. Dict., abridged edition, Vol. 1 (1737)). He called it ‘Caprifolium Germanicum, flore rubello, serotinum’ (Caprifolium being an old generic name, used for the common woodbine as well as for L. caprifolium). The honeysuckle known at the present time as ‘Serotina’ has the flowers dark purple outside, becoming paler with age, and flowers over a long period in summer. It is, in other words, long-rather than late-flowering, and indeed it has also been known as L. periclymenum semperflorens. It is very doubtful whether this is really the true ‘Serotina’. It is possibly the same as Miller’s ‘long blowing’ form of the Dutch honeysuckle, which Weston listed as a variety distinct from the Dutch and the late-flowering sort, under the name ‘Lonicera-Periclymenum longiflorens (Flora Anglicana (1775), p. 21).