Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - February 23, 2006

From: Raleigh, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Digestive distress from eating Lonicera sempervirens
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

A friend of mine ate Lonicera sempervirens and it caused a burning sensation in his stomach. What may have caused this sensation?

ANSWER:

Although I couldn't find any sources that listed Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) as toxic, several other species in the Genus Lonicera are mildly toxic. Ingesting Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), native to eastern Asia but now widespread in North America, can cause various symptoms including vomiting, respiratory failure, and convulsions when eaten in large quantities. The toxic components in the vine are saponic and cyanogenic glycosides and the berries contain carotenoids. The nectar, however, can be sipped from the flowers with no ill effects. European fly honeysuckle (Lonicera xylosteum), native to Europe but also widespread in North America, causes vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pains. Mice injected with berry extract often died. The toxic component appears to be saponin. according to the Canadian Poisonous Plants Database. Tartarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), native to Asia and southern Russia, is cited in European literature as being toxic.

It is likely that Lonicera sempervirens also contains saponins and these are what caused your friend's gastric distress.
 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Vines for fence, safe for horses in California
December 12, 2013 - I live in a fire prone part of Orange County, CA named Silverado and own horses. Am interested in fast growing vines to cover a fenced area which are horse safe. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Toxicity of Lupinus ssp. (bluebonnets)
June 25, 2007 - Are bluebonnets toxic to cattle?
view the full question and answer

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Toxic to Dogs?
October 14, 2014 - Are Kousa dogwood berries toxic to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Is non-native Tillandsia air plant poisonous to cats?
June 07, 2010 - Are Tillandsia/air plants poisonous to cats? Please help!
view the full question and answer

Beneficial characteristics of Phytolacca americana (Pokeweed)
May 21, 2013 - I have a surprise Polk weed plant growing in my back yard, does it have any beneficial uses,and if not, how best to eradicate it. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.