Leycesteria formosa – Himalayan Honeysuckle

Leycesteria formosa or Himalayan Honeysuckle is another 19th century introduction to this country and was very popular with the Victorians.  As its common name would suggest, it is native to the Himalayas and Northern China and is a member of the family Caprifoliaceae or honeysuckle family.  In appearance it does not resemble the climbing honeysuckles of our gardens, in habit it is more like a bamboo with each of the hollow stems lasting 2 or 3 years before being replaced by new growth.  This is yet another plant that has been introduced into Australia and New Zealand and become invasive and considered a pest.  It is unfussy and will grow in most soil types, except the very dry, and all levels of light, although it is most useful as a woodland or edge of woodland plant.  It has white racemes of flowers in the summer followed by persistent bracts and purple fruit.  Like several plants that grow in our garden I have read that it dislikes maritime conditions.  There is little indication of this preference as it grows well with us and seeds itself with abandon; unless I’m reading the signs wrong I would say it is perfectly happy to be beside the seaside.  It is also a great wildlife friendly addition to the garden, the flowers are attractive to insects and the fruit is eaten by birds, presumably including pheasants as another of its alias’ is Pheasant Berry .  Mr Medlar told me he had tried one of these berries last year.  This week I stood and looked at them and thought “I’m just not hungry enough yet”.

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2 responses to “Leycesteria formosa – Himalayan Honeysuckle

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