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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - May 17, 2010

From: Tualatin, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Was my grandmother growing a Honeysuckle Bush in Middleton, Idaho?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I would like to know the name of the flowering bush that grew in the backyard of my grandmother's house in Middleton, Idaho. I remember it to be purple in color and had petals with what I used to call "bugles" that hung from underneath the petals. I would tear of the "bugles" and bite off the ends and suck out the nectar. I love this memory, but can't find them in any website/dictionary related to flowers/botany. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants has a similar memory from his  youth of sucking nectar from flowers. Oh how sweet! We were in competition with butteflies and moths for the nectar.

The flowers were white and yellow, and the plant was called Honeysuckle.  As you have learned, "bugles" is not a standard botanical term for any flower parts, but there is a honeysuckle known as the trumpet honeysuckle which alludes to the shape of its tubular corolla.

There are numerous species of Honeysuckle, and I have found four that have flowers that range in color from pink, to red, to purple

The pink-flowered honeysuckle is known as Lonicera hispidula (pink honeysuckle) or California honeysuckle . (more images)

The red-flowered honeysuckle is known as Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle) or Coral Honeysuckle.  (more images) Since the distribution of the Coral Honeysuckle extends no farther west than Texas, it probably was not in your grandmother's yard.

A purple-flowered species is Lonicera conjugialis  and it is found in Idaho. (more images)

Another purple-flowered species that is invasive in Idaho and other states in the northwest is Lonicera  tartarica.  (more images)

I hope this helps refresh your memory.

 

 

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