Honeysuckle: Harvesting the Sweet Nectar of Life

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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.

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      28 Discussions

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      annalizabeth

      Question 1 year ago on Introduction

      if i wanted to harvest honeysuckle nectar and jar it, what would be the most efficient way to do it?

      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.

      Thanks!

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      lizzym

      10 years ago on Step 5

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

      3 replies
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      floiflizzym

      Reply 2 years ago

      No, the internet says that it's poisonous

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      JustinL104lizzym

      Reply 3 years ago

      autumn olives are what I think you are speaking of

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      nvtskylizzym

      Reply 10 years ago on Step 5

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

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      iguanaunicorn

      2 years ago

      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!

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      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.

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      bennyb1

      6 years ago on Introduction

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

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      Derin

      10 years ago on Introduction

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

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      ysabet

      11 years ago on Introduction

      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.

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      loalasushiysabet

      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      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?

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      atropos

      11 years ago on Introduction

      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. :)

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      Spl1nt3rC3ll

      11 years ago on Introduction

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

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      theque

      11 years ago on Introduction

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