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Fly Honeysuckle

Lonicera xylosteum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle)
Deciduous shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
3 metres tall
Gardens, hedgerows, scrub, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Yellowish-cream coloured flowers, sometimes tinged with pink or red. Flowers are paired, 2-lipped tubular and borne at the leaf axils. 5 stamens.
The fruit is a red berry, seldom yellow. The berries sometimes turn black later in the season.
The leaves are in opposite pairs along the stems. They are oval, hairy and short-stalked.
Sometimes fragrant.
Other Names:
Dwarf Honeysuckle, European Fly Honeysuckle, Fly Woodbine.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Lonicera xylosteum, also known as fly honeysuckle or European fly honeysuckle, is a species of honeysuckle that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a deciduous shrub that typically grows to about 6-10 feet tall and wide. It is characterized by its small, glossy green leaves and its clusters of small, tubular flowers that are typically white or yellow in color. The flowers bloom in late spring and early summer, and are followed by small, red berries that are attractive to birds.

Lonicera xylosteum is a popular garden plant and is often used as a hedge, ground cover, or as a specimen plant. It is hardy, easy to grow and tolerant of most soil types, but it does prefer well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It is also valued for its ornamental and ecological value, it is often used in wildlife gardens and as a naturalizing plant in woodlands and hedgerows. It is considered invasive in some areas and it is important to keep an eye on its growth and to prune it as necessary. It is also used in traditional medicine and as a food source.


Fly honeysuckle, also known as Lonicera xylosteum, is a deciduous shrub that belongs to the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae. It is native to Europe and parts of Asia, but it has also been introduced in other parts of the world, including North America.

The fly honeysuckle shrub can grow up to 2-3 meters in height and 1-2 meters in width. It has a dense growth habit, with branches that are erect and often arching. The leaves are opposite, oval to elliptic in shape, and have a dark green color. The flowers are small and tubular, with a creamy white to pinkish color. They bloom in late spring and early summer, and they are followed by red, translucent berries that ripen in late summer and early fall.

Fly honeysuckle is an easy-to-grow plant that prefers well-draining soil and partial to full sun. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, including acidic and alkaline soils. The plant is also relatively drought-tolerant and can withstand mild frost and cold temperatures.

One of the most attractive features of fly honeysuckle is its wildlife value. The flowers are a favorite nectar source for hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators. The berries are also a food source for birds, including robins, thrushes, and waxwings. In fact, the Latin name of the plant, Lonicera, was named after a famous botanist, Adam Lonitzer, who was also known as the "father of German botany."

Apart from its ornamental and ecological value, fly honeysuckle also has several medicinal uses. It has been used traditionally as a remedy for various ailments, including fever, inflammation, and respiratory infections. The leaves, bark, and berries contain several compounds, including flavonoids, iridoids, and tannins, that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Despite its many benefits, fly honeysuckle can also become invasive in some areas, especially in North America, where it has escaped cultivation and can outcompete native vegetation. It is therefore important to plant fly honeysuckle responsibly and to monitor its growth and spread.

One of the reasons fly honeysuckle is such a great addition to a garden is its versatility. It can be used as a shrub border or hedge, as an accent plant, or even as a ground cover. It can also be pruned into a more formal shape if desired.

Another advantage of fly honeysuckle is that it is relatively low-maintenance. It does not require frequent watering or fertilization, and it is resistant to most pests and diseases. However, occasional pruning can help to keep the plant looking its best and prevent it from becoming too dense or leggy.

If you are considering planting fly honeysuckle in your garden, it is important to choose a cultivar that is well-suited to your climate and growing conditions. Some popular cultivars include 'Emerald Mound,' which has a compact growth habit and red fall foliage, and 'Maigrün,' which has yellow-green leaves and is resistant to powdery mildew.

Overall, fly honeysuckle is a versatile, attractive, and ecologically valuable plant that is well worth considering for your garden. Whether you are looking to attract pollinators and wildlife, add a splash of color to your landscape, or enjoy its medicinal benefits, fly honeysuckle is a great choice. Just be sure to plant it responsibly and monitor its growth to prevent it from becoming invasive.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological value, fly honeysuckle has a rich cultural history. It has been used in traditional medicine for centuries in Europe and Asia, and it has also been used in folk customs and beliefs. In Sweden, for example, fly honeysuckle was believed to have protective properties and was often planted near homes and barns to ward off evil spirits.

Fly honeysuckle has also been used in various culinary traditions. The berries have a tart flavor and can be used to make jams, jellies, and syrups. In Russia, the berries are used to make a popular drink called "kisiel," which is similar to a fruit pudding. The flowers can also be used to flavor tea or as a garnish for desserts.

Another interesting fact about fly honeysuckle is that it is sometimes used as a natural dye. The berries can be boiled and the resulting liquid can be used to dye fabric and yarn a reddish-purple color.

Fly honeysuckle is also known for its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, which makes it a valuable addition to gardens and landscapes. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plants, and fixing it in the soil can help to reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers.

In addition to its ecological and practical benefits, fly honeysuckle is also a great plant for wildlife watching. The plant's dense growth habit provides cover and nesting sites for birds, and the flowers and berries attract a wide range of pollinators and wildlife. Watching hummingbirds and butterflies visit the flowers or seeing birds feed on the berries can be a delightful experience for nature lovers.

Fly honeysuckle is also an excellent plant for erosion control. Its deep roots help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion, making it a great choice for sloped or hilly areas.

In terms of propagation, fly honeysuckle can be easily grown from seed or cuttings. Seeds can be collected in the fall and sown in the spring, or cuttings can be taken in the summer and rooted in soil or water.

In conclusion, fly honeysuckle is a versatile and valuable plant with many benefits for gardeners and wildlife alike. Whether you are looking to attract pollinators, stabilize soil, or simply enjoy its ornamental value, this shrub is a great choice for any garden or landscape.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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