Introduction: Honeysuckle: Harvesting the Sweet Nectar of Life
What could be better than harvesting something you didn't sow? When what you didn't sow is liquid candy! This instructable will show you how to find and harvest sweet honeysuckle nectar straight from your backyard or neighborhood park. This lazy summer afternoon skill is great for kids of all ages (which includes you).
Step 1: Background
There are nearly 180 different know honeysuckle species, most native to Europe and Asia, with only about twenty indigenous to the US. Honeysuckle is most often a vine, usually growing to a max of 20 feet. Some grow in a shrub-like form. Many species (especially those from Asia) are sold in the US for their beauty and for there attractiveness to hummingbirds.
The honeysuckle seen here is Lonicera japonica or Japanese Honeysuckle, which is one of the two exotic invasive species of honeysuckle found growing wild in the United States (the other being the shrub Lonicera maackii). In the eastern United States and Hawaii Lonicera japonica is responsible for significant environmental damage, destroying and displacing native forest species.
It is easy to identify, producing potently fragrant white and yellow flowers throughout the summer months. It grows prodigiously along forest edges and semi-forested areas.
This species is still sold in nurseries. PLEASE do your part not to further introduce exotic invasives into our environment. Educate yourself! Plant smart! Check out http://www.invasive.org/ for more information.
Now that we've legitimized ripping the reproductive organs off this plant, lets move on.
Step 2: Pick a Flower
Pick a flower or two off the vine. Try to remove the entire flower, including the little green bud where the flower connects to the stem (the calyx for all you budding botanists).
Step 3: Pinch It
Hold the flower with one hand, and pinch just above the calyx with the other. Pinch hard enough to break through the petal, but not all the way through the insides. You'll see what I mean in a minute.
Step 4: Pull
Carefully pull on the end of the flower. A white "string" should show up, connected to the calyx. This white "string" is the style, part of the female half of the flower. Continue to slowly pull the style down the center of the flower.
Step 5: Sugar
Luckily, the style has a little green plunger on the end of it (called the stigma) that just barely fits into the tube shaped flower, forcing all the nectar to pool in a little drop at the back end. Bring it to your lips, and enjoy!
Repeat as necessary.