Introduction: Honeysuckle: Harvesting the Sweet Nectar of Life

Picture of 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 for more information.

Now that we've legitimized ripping the reproductive organs off this plant, lets move on.

Step 2: Pick a Flower

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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

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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

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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

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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.


Tool Using Animal (author)2007-06-16

Thanks for pointing out what a horrible weed japanese honeysuckle is. But there is a native honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens, which more people should plant, personally I planted 7 one gallon plants two weeks ago.

floif (author)Tool Using Animal2017-03-08

are those nectar edible too?

Those are so beautiful. Wonderful coloring. :D

Awesome! I remember someone once pointing a native species out to me, but my initial research made me believe that they must have been mistaken. Now that I look again, I've found 2 dozen or more species of honeysuckle that are native to the US, Loricera sempervirens being a beautiful example.


lizzym (author)2008-10-26

what about the red berry that is on the plant can you use that for something or eat them??!!

floif (author)lizzym2017-03-08

No, the internet says that it's poisonous

JustinL104 (author)lizzym2016-05-09

autumn olives are what I think you are speaking of

nvtsky (author)lizzym2009-05-24

great for diarehhia or poisoning enemy's. only flower works.

iguanaunicorn (author)2017-01-18

I used to do this all the time as a little kid, but since moving halfway across the world, I was never able to find any of these flowers, up until a week ago when I stumbled across a massive vine behind my garden. I kind of forgot how to eat them, but this has been really helpful. (Apparently I was doing it wrong all those years, just squeezing the flower without pulling out the style.) Thanks for the lesson!

magnoliasouth (author)2014-03-12

This stuff grows wild all over the south and I grew up doing just that. Back in the '70s we didn't have cell phones and computers and Xbox/PS and all those things. We had to while the day away using our imagination. From dandelion necklaces to eating honeysuckle, those were the good 'ol days. I just didn't know it then. I sure wish I had appreciated it more.

bennyb1 (author)2013-05-12

I guess us Southern kids all learned that way early. Can't remember not sucking Honeysuckle flowers! hah Good stuff!

puadxe (author)2008-12-21

just leave some for the hummingbirds :)

Derin (author)2008-11-04

Hah!I just learned other guys do this too.The pinkish ones can you eat? Our school playground is full of honeysuckles

ysabet (author)2008-05-01

I did this *all the time* as a kid in NW Florida! And every now and then I do it out where I live now, and people around me go "???" in confusion. Don't they remember being children? I do.

loalasushi (author)ysabet2008-10-25

I also grew up in NW florida and did this all the time. I am now looking for the particular name of the honeysuckle that grew so easily in the Fort Walton Beach area. Any ideas?

atropos (author)2008-06-08

Honeysuckle was the best part of junior high gym class. All the kids used to make fun of me and think I was a freak for eating plants. Screw them though, they don't know what they were missing! While they were running a mile, I was enjoying the sweeter side of nature. :)

My friends call them Honey-fuckles

Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)2007-11-18

To bad I don't have honeysuckle here. This Instructable looks perfect for this group. You could join it if you'd like

theque (author)2007-09-21

I used to eat these all the time in Oklahoma. It was one of my favorite memories

of course...itd take forever... oh well i could sell it for 5-10 dollars per bag and if i got enough...i could refridgerate it and all other possibillites

i think its kool because in our backyard we have a spit load of them ill try myself maybe we can have and sell it if i sold it...wat kind of caontainers should i put it in...hmmm baggies?

flick (author)2007-06-18

I repeat what Falaco Soliton said - PLEASE be careful to ID plants correctly before you eat them, including what parts are edible. Some plants (like potato) have edible and poisonous parts on the same plant. I am unaware of any violets (Viola species) with tubers for roots. Wild edibles has been my hobby for years, and I thought violet roots were considered inedible. There are a number of good sites on the 'net to help ID the commonest and easiest to identify wild plants. Learning the scientific names is helpful too - a common name in one area may signify an edible plant there, but a poisonous plant in another part of the country. Please kill the non-native honeysuckle after you've pigged out on nectar ;-).

Falaco Soliton (author)flick2007-06-18

I thought i remember reading that the tubers of the "Dog-tooth Violet" were edible. I've never tried it though, and most of my experiences with tubers that were supposed to be edible were unpleasant.

zipykido (author)2007-06-16

Is any other part of the plant such at the petal itself edible? My mom planted a native plant a few years ago and it's quite large now (needs trimming) and the wildlife love it.

Falaco Soliton (author)zipykido2007-06-17

Yea, you could eat the flower itself, but its rather bland. Many flowers are edible, including many violets (as are their tubers) and Nasturtium, whos flower tastes like mustard, and is entirely edible.

Before eating random things you find outside you should be comfortable identifying plants. Invest in a edible plants book or a field guide (peterson makes good ones) and be sure to talk to a naturalist or botantist before doing anything you'll regret.

and give your mom a high five for planting a native species.

T3h_Muffinator (author)2007-06-16

Yay! Finally, now kids might stop staring at me when I eat the nectar of honeysuckles off of the local vine at school ;)

Awesome Instructable, I agree with Canida =)

canida (author)2007-06-16

I grew up eating the native honeysuckle in Indiana. Thanks for posting- everyone should know how this works!

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