Monday, June 25, 2012

Coral honeysuckle

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Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is blooming in Southwest Florida now.  One of the things I love about this native vine is that it’s relatively easy to maintain once established, and is non-invasive, unlike some of its relatives.  It grows throughout Florida, north to Canada and west to the Midwest in the US.

Another thing I like is that the blooms attract ruby-throat hummingbirds and a large variety of butterflies.  The large swallowtails visit our yard more frequently when it’s in full bloom, especially the brilliant yellow and black Giant Swallowtail butterfly.  I’ve read that clearwing moths use honeysuckles as larval foods, but I’ve never seen them around.

The trumpet-like flowers are a mix of lovely shades of deep yellow, coral, and carmine, and the opposite oval-shaped leaves are bright green on top, with a pale green underside.  Right now, the berries are forming and are green; they’ll ripen to a shiny red later to be eaten by songbirds. 

The genus name Lonicera is a tribute to Adam Lonicer, a 16th century German botanist, and the species name sempervirens is from the Latin for “always alive” which describes its evergreen habit in the South.  It does tend to drop some leaves in the winter in our area, but not many. 

I gathered these leaves and flowers to sketch inside as part of The Sketchbook Project I’m creating, since Tropical Storm Debby has pushed her low gray clouds, rain, and wind (even tornadoes!) into our corner of Southwest Florida.  We’ve had a rainy week already, and it looks like we’ll have more in store next week. Hope you all are save and dry!

The Sketchbook Project sketchbook,
Pitt Artist pen in black, size XS for the sketch, and S for the text
(I’m determined to sketch directly with pen throughout the book…we’ll see how that goes!),
Kimberly watercolor pencils,
Niji Aquabrush, small size (sparingly, as pages buckle easily).

For more information on coral honeysuckle, visit Floridata’s site.

For a range map on their distribution in the US, visit the USDA’s page (scroll down to see map).