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Orange honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa) of the Caprifoliaceae family is a perennial woody vine native to many areas of Western North America, including British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Utah, and Arizona (USDA 2016). The typical habitat for orange honeysuckle is open to somewhat dense woods and thickets from low to middle elevations, ideally in partial shade but in a range from shade to partial sun. Although drought resistant, it prefers moist soil and is able to grow up to 6 meters high, usually as twining vines (Knoke and Giblin 2016).
L. ciliosa can be recognized by its bright orange-red trumpet-shaped flowers, usually about 2.5 to 3 centimeters long, with yellow stamens. These flowers appear in May and June in whorled clusters of about 7 to 10 and occur above large, rounded green leaves (NPIN 2015). These leaves, approximately four to ten centimeters long, are placed oppositely, with the last two on each twig often being fused together, making it appear as if the base of the flowers is surrounded by an encompassing disk. The fruits are red or orange berries occurring in clusters. These inedible and possibly poisonous berries are about one centimeter in diameter (Pojar and McKinnon, 1994).
The bright color and sweet smell and taste of the flowers’ nectar attract bees and other insects, as well as hummingbirds, and the fruit is eaten by many types of birds, including grouse, pheasants, flickers, robins, thrushes, bluebirds, waxwings, grosbeaks, finches, and juncos, all of which aids the plant’s reproduction and contributes to the local ecology (WNPS 2007). Humans can enjoy the sweet nectar by pulling the tubular flower off the leaves and sucking on the base of the honeysuckle.