Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Coral Honeysuckle - Lonicera sempervirens   L.
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Section 6 » Order Dipsacales » Family Caprifoliaceae
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DistributionThroughout the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, but barely ranges into the lowest elevations of the mountains. Records for just a handful of mountain counties.

This species ranges across most of the eastern US and southern Canada. However, it is mainly found from NY south to southern FL, and to central TX, but is of sparse occurrence north of VA, TN, and AR.
AbundanceFrequent to common across the Coastal Plain and Piedmont. Rare at low elevations of the mountains.
HabitatThis species has a great tolerance of various forested and partly wooded habitats. It is most numerous in pine woods or mixed pine-hardwoods, but it also occurs in oak-hickory forests, thickets, hedgerows, and other fairly dry to mesic sites. It can occur in bottomlands, but it tends to favor upland sites and is not really a wetland species.
PhenologyBlooms from March to July, and fruits from July to September. It may bloom occasionally in late summer and fall.
IdentificationThis is a familiar slender, barely woody vine that grows along the ground or sprawl on other plants, to a length of up to 12-15’. It is tardily deciduous, but it can easily hold its leaves into late fall or early winter. It has opposite, entire, and quite variable leaf shapes; some leaves are quite widely elliptic, but others are rather narrow; they grow to about 2.5” long. Leaves are variously dark green to glaucous blue-green above but are conspicuously whitened below. This slender vine can go easily unnoticed on a woodland walk until carefully looked for, but when it blooms it can be seen from long distances and is unmistakable. The flowers are red and narrowly tubular, to about 1.5-2” long, growing in a cluster at the tips of branches, with a cup of two fused leaves just below the cluster. This species can be confused with the abundant Japanese Honeysuckle (L. japonica), and both often occur together. Coral Honeysuckle has more variable leaves, some quite narrow, they are a more bluish-green above, and are quite pale below. Japanese Honeysuckle leaves area brighter grass-green above, usually wider, and some often have lobes. This latter species has widely flaring white to cream-colored flowers, so there is no confusion whatsoever when either is in bloom.
Taxonomic CommentsSome references have named varieties for this species, but Weakley (2018) and NatureServe do not.

Other Common Name(s)Both Scarlet Honeysuckle and Trumpet Honeysuckle are also frequently used.
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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