What Is the Meaning of the Honeysuckle Flower?

Overview

Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is part of the Caprifoliaceae family. Originating predominantly in China, about 40 species of honeysuckle grow in Europe and North America. These species include white honeysuckle, coral honeysuckle, woodbine and trumpet honeysuckle. For bird watchers, the allure of this plant are that hummingbirds love honeysuckle nectar. Honeysuckle petals are edible and, true to the name, have a lightly sweet flavor. This sweetness also ties into the flower's symbolic value. The scientific name for honeysuckle comes from Renaissance botanist Adam Lonicer.

Language of Flowers

Lady Mary Wortley Montague introduced the "Secret Language of Flowers" to Europe in the 18th century. In this collection, hundreds of flowers each have meanings. Carefully contrived bouquets conveyed all manner of messages. In 1819 Madame Charlotte de la Tour put out a book on floral messages in French. According to that work, honeysuckle represents being "united in love" and devotion because of the flower's clinging nature.

Literary References

Honeysuckle appears symbolically in literature. In Marie de France's book "Chevrefoil," honeysuckle and hazel together represent the ill-fated lovers Tristan and Isolde. William Faulkner used the aroma of honeysuckle to signify sex, and Robert Frost speaks of honeysuckle in "To Earthward" as a symbol of intense love.

Meanings

In Scotland, woodbine appears in wedding ceremonies to represent the love that clings without harming anyone. Among the French, giving honeysuckle to a partner represents generous love, and in China dreaming of honeysuckle means passion. In European lore, a honeysuckle blossoming near your home foretells a wedding within one year.

Art

Paul Rubens, a Baroque painter, created a painting called the Honeysuckle Bower in the 1600s, honoring his marriage to Isabella Brant. Here, the couple sits together in a bower surrounded by honeysuckle as a symbol of undying love.

Religion

In Druidry, honeysuckle is one of the letters of the Ogham alphabet. Here the flower implied diligently staying true to your path as well as life's sweetness.

Folklore

The Scottish believe growing honeysuckle brings good luck and protects your home from evil. When you bring flowers into your home, they represent prosperity, and money follows. During the Victorian era, suitors gave honeysuckle flowers as a promise of true love.

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About this Author

Patricia Telesco has been a writer since 1992. She has produced more than 60 books with publishers that include HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. Her articles have appeared in "Woman's World" and "National Geographic Today." Telesco holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Buffalo.