Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lonicera oblongifolia - Swamp Fly Honeysuckle

The unintentional theme lately has been under-utilized native plants and their cultivars, so let's continue that shall we?

Swamp Fly Honeysuckle, Lonicera oblongifolia, is a boreal species found in the US and Canada.  Its range is limited to the northern tier of states from Minnesota east to Maine and Saskatchewan through Quebec.  You can find it growing natural in wet wooded edges along swamps, marshes, and streams.

Generally growing 3-4' tall and wide, L. oblongifolia makes a great shrub for light shade or partial sun.  Despite its preference for wet habitats, it does quite well in average garden conditions as long as clay soils are avoided and has a moderate growth rate.  Creamy white to pale yellow flowers are slightly fragrant and borne in pairs typically in June.  These flowers are then followed by orange to red berries in July and August.  Like other species of Lonicera, the flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds and the berries are loved by birds.  Leaves are blue-green and slightly hairy.  They will develop some yellow fall color, while it isn't spectacular it is fairly nice.

While certainly not as showy as a Hydrangea or some of the non-native honeysuckle species, Lonicera oblongifolia deserves wider garden use.  It's great as a background or filler plant and works well in slightly shaded wet sites.  It has high wildlife value and is rather uncommon throughout its range.  Give it a try!

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