There are four honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.) in Nova Scotia including two native species (L. villosa and American fly-honeysuckle, L. canadensis) and two that are escapes from gardens (woodbine, L. periclymemum; Tatarian honeysuckle, L. tatarica). Both of the native species are shrubs 1-2 m in height with opposite leaves. Leaves of L. villosa are dark green and widest at or above the middle (leaves of L. canadensis are light green and widest below the middle). Leaves and twigs of L. villosa L. villosa may be densely villose, those of L. canadensis much less so. L villosa has paired, bisexual flowers with united ovaries (versus separate ovaries in L. canadensis), and united blush fruits (in L. canadensis, fruits are separate and red). L. villosa flowers in May/early June in Nova Scotia (L. canadensis in early May). The berries are edible and, reportedly, delicious. L. villosa is found in bogs, wet pastures, heath-barrens, boggy thickets, and low pastures (L. canadensis in mixed and deciduous woods). Five varieties of L. villosa and five taxa overall are recognized,1 three of which occur in Nova Scotia.2 The species is distributed through cool regions of eastern North America from Newfoundland to Alberta and north to Nunavut, and through the northern border states in the eastern U.S. It has S4 or S5 status (secure) through most of its Canadian distribution, while it is vulerable, imperilled or possibly extirpated in some of the U.S. states.
The genus name (Lonicera) is named after Adam Lonitzer (1528-1586), a herbalist who wrote a standard herbal text reprinted many times between 1557 and 1783. The species epithet, villosa, is derived from the Latin term for "with hairs".3
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June 9, 2005. Halifax County: Lawrencetown - upper area of marsh at Lawrencetown Lake.
The typical variety is a northern depressed shrub which is densely hairy on the twigs and leaves. This has not been found in the Province. Several other varieties have been proposed but in N.S., and apparently elsewhere, these intergrade and appear more like forms. (L. caerulea L. var. villosa (Michx.) T. & G.). Var. Solonis (Eat.) Fern. has the young branches covered with fine short hairs mixed with longer ones and the leaves are pilose beneath. Var. (Fern. & Wieg.) Fern. has the young twigs with only fine short hairs or puberulence. Var. tonsa Fern. has the branches glabrous, and the leaves glabrous or nearly so. Most of the material found in bogs, wet pastures, heath-barrens and boggy thickets have the characteristics of the first two varieties; scattered in the cooler parts of the Province. Var. tonsa occurs in low pastures above Parrsboro and sometimes fruits abundantly.3. Source: Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium