Lonicera villosa (Mountain Fly Honeysuckle)
|Also known as:||Mountain Honeysuckle|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist to wet; swamps, fens, woods, thickets|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||1 to 5 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Hanging pairs of flowers arising singly from leaf axils near the tips of 1-year-old branches. Flowers are 1/3 to ½ inch long, funnel-shaped, pale yellow to creamy white, with 5 flaring triangular lobes and a small hump at the base of the tube, on the outside edge. Emerging from the floral tube are 5 yellow stamens and a long, slender style with a dome-shaped stigma at the tip. Between the flowers and the stalk is a single large, oval ovary with a pair of linear bracts at the base that are longer than the ovary. The cluster stalk is up to ½ inch long and slender. Flowers, bracts and stalks are variously hairy, in long or short spreading hairs, or a mix.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are opposite, ¾ to 2½ inches long, up to 1 inch wide, generally elliptic widest at or near the middle, blunt or pointed at the tip, rounded to slightly tapered at the base, on a short stalk. Edges are toothless but fringed in fine hairs (ciliate).
Twigs are green to purplish, hairy, and solid with a white pith. Older bark is brown to grayish and peeling in strips. Stems are mostly erect but branches may take root where they touch the ground, forming clonal plants.
The paired flowers of Mountain Fly Honeysuckle much resemble those of Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), but the latter has larger flowers, a separate ovary for each flower which produces a pair of bright red berries, plus its leaves are larger, proportionately wider, and are mostly hairless except around the edges. The taxonomy of Lonicera villosa, also known as Lonicera caerulea var. villosa, is rather confusing. The references that lump it with L. caerulea note there are several additional vars, but details on distinguishing them are poorly documented. According to Welby Smith's “Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota”, L. villosa is a maximum 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and some other references put it around 3 feet. Flora of China, one of the few reliable references for L. caerulea, puts L. caerulea at a max height of 8 feet (2.5m), but does not separate any vars. It also notes characteristics such as unusual branch buds and a stipule between leaf stalks that are not mentioned in other references. We encountered a large shrub (over 6 feet) in Duluth showing these characteristics but otherwise matching the description of L. villosa. Can we assume it is one of the other vars?
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Mountain Fly Honeysuckle shrub
- Mountain Fly Honeysuckle shrubs
- Mountain Fly Honeysuckle shrubs
- reddish early season leaves
- late season Mountain Fly Honeysuckle
- flowering branch
- fruiting branch
- exceptionally large shrub, possibly non-native L. caerulea
- trunk of possible non-native L. caerulea
- buds and stipule of possible non-native L. caerulea
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Itasca, Lake and St. Louis counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?