A climber growing to 13 ft (4 m) that is deciduous (honeysuckle, L. caprifolium) or semi-evergreen (jin yin hua, L. japonica). Has paired oval leaves, yellow-orange (honeysuckle) or yellow-white (jin yin hua) tubular flowers, and red (honeysuckle) or black (jin yin hua) berries.
Habitat & Cultivation
Honeysuckle is native to southern Europe and the Caucasus. Jin yin hua is native to China and Japan. Both plants are commonly found growing on walls, on trees, and in hedges. The flowers and leaves are gathered in summer just before the flowers open.
Flowers, leaves, bark.
In Europe, L. caprifolium and L. japonica are often used interchangeably and contain approximately the same quantity of volatile oil. Nonetheless, Romanian research indicates that the Asian species contains a much wider range of therapeutically active antiseptic compounds.
History & Folklore
Honeysuckle is one of the Bach Flower Remedies, and in this system of herbal cures it is believed to counter feelings of nostalgia and homesickness. Jin yin hua has long been used in Chinese medicine to “clear heat and relieve toxicity.”
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Honeysuckle flowers from both species can be successfully used to treat fever, colds, and upper respiratory tract infections. The leaves are traditionally used as a gargle for sore throats and as a mouthwash. In Chinese herbal medicine, honeysuckle finds frequent use in inflammatory conditions, such as conjunctivitis, mastitis (inflammation of the breasts), and rheumatism.
Chinese research indicates that the Asian species has significant antimicrobial activity, including against the tuberculosis bacillus. Clinical studies suggest that this species can also help to lower high blood pressure.
Do not eat the berries, which are thought to be toxic.