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Exploring Native Plant Superstars with Dr. Doug Tallamy

Some native plants are true workhorses in the landscape providing a wide array of benefits to your ecosystem, while adding beauty to your landscape.  One such terrific plant is Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens).  There aren’t many native plants that bloom from spring through fall – this one does.

While visiting with Dr. Doug Tallamy (author of Bringing Nature Home) in his native garden, we came across Coral Honeysuckle doing another magical thing – serving as a host plant for the caterpillar of the native Snowberry Clearwing Moth, busily eating the honeysuckle’s leaves.  Coral Honeysuckle, as a host plant for this creature, is one of the few plants that these caterpillars can eat.  A food web in action!

You may have seen the Snowberry Clearwing Moth in its adult form – it looks a bit like a miniature hummingbird while in flight –  it jigs in one direction and then jags in another.  Coral Honeysuckle (aka Trumpet Honeysuckle) provides another surprise as it is also a magnet for real hummingbirds that find its red tubular flowers quite irresistible.

Coral Honeysuckle is a twining woody vine, best grown on a support, but will grow on the ground, as well.  It is one of approximately 12 species of honeysuckle native to the U.S.   Here is some information on the plant in case I have enticed you to plant it:

–       Twining woody vine

–       Deciduous leaves, evergreen in lower South

–       Native from Connecticut to Ohio and Oklahoma, and south to Alabama and Florida

–       Hardy in zones 4 to 9

–       Mature size 15 – 20 long max.,  spread to 8 ft

–       Best in full sun; will grow in part sun but with less flowering and fruit

–       Prefers moist soil, will grow in average soil

–       Trumpet shaped red flowers with yellow throats –  from spring through fall

–       Flowers attract hummingbirds, also pollinated by bees and butterflies

–       Red berries ripen in the fall  – enjoyed by many birds

–       Host plant for the Snowberry Clearwing Moth and the Spring Azure Butterfl

Help a Hummer, Feed a Snowberry, Plant a Native Honeysuckle!
From Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!

Photo: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Nectaring on Lonicera sempervirens
Photo credit: Jim Hammer