1. Family: Caprifoliaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Lonicera L.
      1. Lonicera sempervirens L.

        Lonicera sempervirens was introduced to England by John Tradescant the Younger (1608-1662), gardener to King Charles I. He visited Virginia ‘...to gather up all raritye of flowers, plants, shells, ...’ and listed this plant in the catalogue of his garden at South Lambeth in 1656.


    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Trumpet honeysuckle has striking, bright red, tubular flowers and is an attractive climber, which is evergreen in very mild areas.

    Lonicera sempervirens was introduced to England by John Tradescant the Younger (1608-1662), gardener to King Charles I. He visited Virginia ‘...to gather up all raritye of flowers, plants, shells, ...’ and listed this plant in the catalogue of his garden at South Lambeth in 1656.

    During the 18th century, trumpet honeysuckle was grown at the Chelsea Physick Garden by the Curator, Philip Miller, and was well-known in English gardens, until for some unknown reason it seems to have fallen out of favour. By 1804, John Sims, writing an account of the plant for Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, stated: ‘It has been so long lost to our gardens that when lately introduced by Messrs J &JT Fraser, it was considered as new’.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    Lonicera sempervirens is native to eastern and southern parts of the United States, from Maine to Florida and Texas; it has been introduced to eastern Canada and elsewhere.


    Overview: Trumpet honeysuckle is a vigorous, twining shrub with stems up to 5 m long.

    Leaves: Glossy, oval green leaves which are evergreen in milder areas. The pairs of leaves are located just below the flower clusters and are joined at the base, forming a complete ring around the stem (perfoliate).

    Flowers: The narrow, trumpet-shaped flowers are up to about 5 cm long, orange-red on the outside, yellow on the inside and unscented. The flowers are borne in hanging clusters from April to July and are pollinated by ruby-throated hummingbirds ( Archilochus colubris ) in the wild.

    Fruits: The fruit is a fleshy red berry.

    There are several different colour forms, the best-known of which is probably Lonicera sempervirens f. minor (first described as L. sempervirens var. minor by William Aiton in 1789). However, along with other forms described from cultivated plants, this has been considered by taxonomists to be hardly distinct enough to be kept separate, most wild plants being more or less intermediate between L. sempervirens f. minor (which has a more southerly distribution) and L. sempervirens (most commonly encountered further north).

    William Aiton and Kew

    William Aiton (1731-1793), who described Lonicera sempervirens var. minor , and his son William Townsend Aiton (1766-1849) were both highly influential characters in the development of the Gardens at Kew. William Aiton was an assistant to Philip Miller, at the Chelsea Physick Garden, before being employed by Princess Augusta to develop her botanic garden at Kew. He published Hortus Kewensis in 1789, a catalogue of the plants then in cultivation in southern England.

    Threats and conservation

    Lonicera sempervirens is listed as Endangered in Maine (by the United States Department of Agriculture), but is common elsewhere in open woodlands, at the edges of thickets, and sometimes along roadsides, in eastern USA.


    The chewed leaves of trumpet honeysuckle were traditionally used by Native Americans for treating bee stings. The fruits are reported to have been used as an emetic.

    Trumpet honeysuckle is cultivated as an ornamental. In southern USA it is a good plant for attracting hummingbirds. In Great Britain, it has received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.


    Lonicera sempervirens should be planted in well-drained, moist soil in sun or semi-shade. It needs some kind of support, such as a trellis, around which to twine. L. sempervirens is quite hardy. It can be susceptible to powdery mildew in stagnant air. Propagation can be carried out using cuttings, layering or seed.

    This species at Kew

    Trumpet honeysuckle can be seen growing in the Queen's Garden (behind Kew Palace) at Kew.

    Pressed and dried specimens of Lonicera sempervirens are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment. The details of specimens of many other species of Lonicera , can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.

    Forest and open woodland.
    Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria, but listed as Endangered in Maine, USA. No known threats elsewhere.

    The fruits can cause nausea and vomiting if eaten.

    Ornamental, traditional medicine.



    Found In:

    Alabama, Tennessee

    Introduced Into:


    Common Names

    Trumpet honeysuckle

    Lonicera sempervirens L. appears in other Kew resources:

    First published in Sp. Pl.: 173 (1753)

    Accepted in:

    • [1] Bailey, C. & al. (2015) Guide to the Vascular Plants of Tennessee . University of Tennessee press
    • [2] Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014) Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide , ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale
    • [3] Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013) Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh , Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh
    • [4] Kral, R., Diamond, A.R., Ginzbarg, S.L., Hansen, C.J., Haynes, R.R., Keener, B.R., Lelong, M.G., Spaulding, D.D. & Woods, M. (2011) Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Alabama . Botanical reseach institute of Texas


    • [5] Coffey, T. (1993). The History and Folklore of North American Wildflowers. Facts on File, New York.
    • [6] Weiner, M.A. (1972). Earth Medicine – Earth Food. Plant Remedies, Drugs and Natural Foods of the North American Indians. Collier, New York.
    • [7] Rehder, A. (1903). Synopsis of the genus Lonicera. Missouri Bot. Garden Ann. Rep. 1903: 27-232.
    • [8] Sims, J. (1804). Lonicera sempervirens. Curtis’s Bot. Mag. 20: t. 781.
    • [9] Tradescant, J. (1656). Musaeum tradescantianum: or, a Collection of Rarities Preserved at South-Lambeth neer [sic.] London. Brooke, London.

      United States Department of Agriculture (2011). PLANTS Profile: Lonicera sempervirens.


    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2017). Published on the internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp
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    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
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