0

ORRIN MORRIS: Japanese honeysuckle especially fragrant in the spring

JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE Lonicera japonica

JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE Lonicera japonica

Psalm 43:5 reads “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

Life is filled with good times and bad times, prosperity and scarcity, success and failure, health and illness, youth and aging.

As in a similar situation to that of the Psalmist, when we are surrounded by physical or emotional adversity it is hard to sing the joyous songs of praise. However, during the Lenten season we lift our spiritual eyes to consider the resurrection power of Easter and we say, “I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

Our wildflower for today is so common that it borders on being a pest. In fact, it is classified as invasive.

JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE

Lonicera japonica

This is a relentless climber. Once it gets started, it climbs a fence, a shrub, a tree, a rusty abandoned tractor, or a deserted barn. When the top of the object is reached, the vines start climbing atop themselves until down comes the fence, the tree, and only the rusty tractor remains.

The bloom is another story. The white bloom looks a little like an azalea at first glance, but it is quite distinct. The three-lobed top petal curves upward from the deep throat of the corolla and then falls. One slender lower petal curves downward as pictured.

Generally, the blooms occur in pairs rising from two opposite leaves, one larger than the other. As the bloom ages it turns a pale yellow-orange.

The nectar is sweet but the bee must be small and willing to force its way past long stamens that gracefully swoop downward then upward in beautiful symmetry. The flower is at least 1 1/2 inches long.

Its fragrance fills the air from April through mid-summer. It is especially noticeable in the spring.

In the introduction, I noted that honeysuckle is so common that it borders upon being a pest. Why would I say that about this beautiful plant God has placed here for our pleasure? It was honeysuckle that destroyed a fabulously productive patch of wild blackberries about 30 years ago on my property and I have not exactly forgiven it for that as yet.

That blackberry patch produced some of the largest, sweetest wild berries I have ever seen. We picked about 30 quarts one year from that patch and made some of the best cobblers and jams you can imagine.

That’s the way life is. It is always changing, sometimes with distinct patterns of one species supplanting another. This is especially evident in fallow fields, for they follow the cycles of nature and when there is nothing left to climb, the honeysuckle will die and the blackberries will return.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center St. in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.