The Toxicity of Honeysuckle Berries

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Some honeysuckle plants are noxious.
Some honeysuckle plants are noxious. (Image: Honeysuckle image by StylezInk from Fotolia.com)

The honeysuckle plant genus (Lonicera L.) contains 52 species. Several of these species, including the Lonicera tatarica (Tartarian honeysuckle) and Lonicera xylosteum (dwarf or fly honeysuckle) are classified as invasive and noxious.

Family

Honeysuckle is a vascular, flowering seed plant that is a member of the Caprifoliaceae family, which includes the glossy abelia, bush honeysuckle and elderberry plants.

Appearance

The appearance of different kinds of honeysuckle can vary widely. Some are in the form of shrubs, while others appear as clinging vines, but almost all varieties feature delicate, unusually shaped flowers.

Berries

Honeysuckle plants feature clusters of bright, shiny red or black berries. These berries are characterized by the sweet, honey-like taste also present in the honeysuckle flowers' nectar.

Toxicity

Several varieties of honeysuckle berries are toxic, including the dwarf or fly honeysuckle and the Tartarian honeysuckle. Poisoning symptoms include abdominal pains, diarrhea and vomiting; while the toxin has caused death in laboratory mice, no human deaths have been caused by honeysuckle berries, according to the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility.

Edibility

While some species of honeysuckle are mildly toxic, in a few species, the berries are actually edible, such as the Lonicera caerulea.

References

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