Ahhh, honeysuckle; smell its sweetness lingering in the air, and you know that summer hath finally arrived — yippee! The frosts of winter have subsided, the birds are singing in trees giddy with fresh green leaves, and life is fine.
As the herald of everybody’s favorite season, it’s no surprise that the honeysuckle flower is positively brimming, not just with pollen, but with tons of positive symbolic meanings, imbuing it with depth that has inspired intrigue for centuries.
So, to satisfy our curiosity, let’s take a closer look at this comely twining climber, and see what invisible things we humans have latched onto its colorful blossom.
What Does The Honeysuckle Flower Mean?
Honeysuckle was never going to be a single-meaning flower. It’s far too sweet and pretty for such monogamous symbolism. Yep, this plant plays the field, so to speak, accruing a number of meanings and embedding itself in the culture of many nations.
However, there is one symbolic tie that seems to trump the rest in terms of universality… devotion. Honeysuckle’s ability to cling to its surroundings mirrors the devotion of one human to another, usually in a romantic sense, but that needn’t be the case.
If you enjoy a particularly strong and loving relationship with your friend, honeysuckle could just as well symbolize the devoted dynamics of that relationship, too.
As nice as all this is, the tie between a climbing shrub and devotion is pretty on the nose, so let’s dig a little deeper, and see what other metaphorical stirrings we can find beneath the sightly surface of the honeysuckle flower.
Etymological Meaning Of The Honeysuckle Flower
Honeysuckle comes from the middle English, honysoukil, which itself comes from an earlier middle English term, honysouke, derived from the old English, honigsũce, which means “honey suck”.
These early terms likely referred to a number of different plants favored by animals such as bees and hummingbirds, as they would “suck” the nectar, or “honey”, from the flowers.
It may also refer to the fact that honey bees would literally use the nectar to make honey.
Over the years, the other plants known as honigsũce, such as wild thyme, clover, and privet, were distanced from the term, while honeysuckle – perhaps the most suited to the name – kept it.
In scientific circles, honeysuckle is referred to as Lonicera, which is an eponym bestowed as a tribute to the famous Renaissance botanist, Adam Lonicer.
Symbolism Of The Honeysuckle Flower
Beloved by humans and animals alike, the honeysuckle flower was destined for greatness. Here is a full list of its symbolic associations.
I won’t waffle too much here, as we discussed the connection between honeysuckle and devotion earlier, but what we haven’t picked up on yet is the role the permanence of this plant plays in this link.
Honeysuckle may sound like a sweet name, but make no mistake, this plant is one tough customer. One of the most tenacious plants on the planet, honeysuckle thrives where most other flora cannot, and it can be pretty hard to eliminate manually as well.
This speaks to the strength of the relationships we form when we are truly devoted. Even against ill-will, a devoted partnership endures, safe from the turbulence of external forces.
Honeysuckle represents our everlasting bonds with one another, or, perhaps, even with something other than a human, such as a god or a pursuit in life.
In a way, affection is just a transient form of devotion, so it’s not a big jump to associate the honeysuckle flower with both.
For many, the clinging of honeysuckle vines to a surface represents the physical and non-physical intimacy we share with loved ones, those sweet moments in which we show we care with words or gestures.
This is especially true of new relationships when those involved are still in that exciting nascent phase of getting to know one another and basking in the glow of each other’s attention.
As much as honeysuckle represents affection, it can also represent the affection of times gone by, coaxing up thoughts of old flames and those first, sweet loves that teach us so much about ourselves and others.
But honeysuckle doesn’t have to symbolize past loves, it is also linked to nostalgic joy in general. It could inspire thoughts of your very first video game console, an enjoyable weekend at a music festival, or perhaps just times spent having fun with friends when you were younger.
Perhaps a part of this looking back is brought on by summer’s Master of Ceremonies, the sweet scent of honeysuckle. As we catch it in the air, and the new summer washes over the Earth, our minds are flooded with thoughts of summers (or good times) past.
With a will to succeed against the odds, and beautiful blooms that attract all manner of wildlife, honeysuckle is also said to symbolize happiness, a beacon of hope that wins in spite of all the negativity in the world.
So, next time the world gets you down, think of the sweet honeysuckle flower. It’ll help reestablish your smile and get you thinking positively again.
… Did you know that the type of honeysuckle can also have a big impact on the symbolic meaning of the flower?
- Wild Honeysuckle
Wild honeysuckle is said to evoke ideas of inconsistent love, which has mostly negative connotations. Your mind is drawn to those on-off relationships that lacked stability and never quite found their footing, despite the obvious spark.
- French Honeysuckle
French honeysuckle, on the other hand, represents rustic beauty, the pure, unfiltered artistry of nature. If you receive French honeysuckle from someone, it likely means that they’re trying to tell you that you’re perfect just the way you are.
Honeysuckle Flower Color Meanings
Honeysuckle can have white, yellow, pink, or red blossoms, each color adding its own allegory to the equation — It’s a miracle these plants can climb at all with all this symbolic baggage!
As you’re probably already aware, white flowers tend to symbolize purity, innocence, and grace, and honeysuckle in this hue is no exception, which is why you may see it scaling the rustic walls of expensive countryside wedding venues.
This color meaning ties perfectly into themes of devotion, so if you’re looking for a way to declare your undying love for someone, then white honeysuckle may be the way to go about it.
Yellow honeysuckle symbolizes happiness, trust, appreciation, friendship, and respect. If you wanted to celebrate platonic devotion, you’d perhaps choose yellow honeysuckle instead of white.
Know someone who’s been trying to get the boo-hoos out lately? Honeysuckle petals in their yellow form are the embodiment of sunbeams and a great way to cheer someone up when they’re feeling a little down in the dumps.
Pink is quite a subtle and versatile shade of honeysuckle. It can symbolize innocence, playfulness, or even sensitivity. It’s an ideal gift for anyone and everyone that you hold dear in your life.
Red, on the other hand, is all about fiery passion and romance, making this form of honeysuckle a more confident alternative to a tentative red rose. This flower isn’t for those tiptoeing around the prospect of a romantic relationship, this flower is for those already embroiled in their passionate affair.
Meaningful Botanical Characteristics Of The Honeysuckle Flower
Honeysuckle loves to climb, and once it reaches sufficient altitude, it opens it’s beautiful, flouncy flowers to the sun, inviting bees and birds to partake in its sweet nectar. From this act, we can learn about the importance of helping those around us.
It’s perfectly okay to reach for the stars, but we should always use our success for the betterment of our community, the environment, and those we love.
The fact that honeysuckle flowers bloom in clusters of two is also exceedingly profound, telling us that we’re stronger with one another than we are alone — together, we bloom!
Special Occasions For Honeysuckle Flowers
Honeysuckle is the official birth flower for June babies, so if there’s a “June-bug” in your life, a birthday honeysuckle will go down a storm! Not to worry if you don’t, as honeysuckle makes an original and thoughtful gift no matter the occasion.
Honeysuckle Flower Cultural Significance
Honeysuckle was first recognized in Ogham, the alphabet of ancient druids, used primarily to express early forms of Gaelic.
The honeysuckle character of Ogham is said to have represented following your path, or, in other words, being confident and trusting in yourself to the point you’re able to carve your own unique identity and way of living — not bad for a single character, ay?
For the Chinese, honeysuckle, or jin yin hua, as it’s known, was an essential medicinal ingredient used for treating a variety of ailments.
In France, honeysuckle was symbolic of devotion, spirituality, love, and fidelity. Considered a primary symbol in the book Le Langage des Fleurs, by Louis Cortambert, it’s small wonder that these sentiments survived the test of time.
During the Victorian era of Great Britain, honeysuckle played a major role in superstition. People believed that if they grew it in their gardens, or even better, around their doors, it would fend off evil spirits and witches.
The Victorians also believed that placing honeysuckle flowers beneath their pillow would result in sweet dreams of those they loved and that it would improve overall mood upon waking. This is perhaps part of the reason that honeysuckle is still used today to make aromatherapy pillows.
Honeysuckle Flower Facts
- There are 180 known species of honeysuckle.
- If you’re a fan of Shakespeare or Chaucer, you may have noticed honeysuckle’s brief cameos in Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Canterbury Tales.
- The berries of most honeysuckle species are poisonous, but there are a few that are edible.
- Animals absolutely adore honeysuckle. Moths, in particular, are attracted to its sweet fragrance and eye-catching colors, as are bees. You may also witness robins and blackbirds frequenting honeysuckle vines, as they find the berries to be quite the delicacy.
- Despite its beauty and sweet fragrance, honeysuckle is considered a pest by many green thumbs. Japanese honeysuckle is especially maligned, as it will often smother neighboring shrubs and trees.
Honeysuckle Flower Uses
- Honeysuckle is commonly used to fragrance cat toys, as our furry friends are attracted to the scent.
- We humans are not so far removed from our felines, as we like to put honeysuckle in tons of health and beauty products — it just smells soooo good!
- Honeysuckle also has a number of medicinal applications. It has been used to treat diabetes, digestive issues, reduce inflammation, as a source of antioxidants, to aid memory, and to stave off viral infection. However, there is very little scientific evidence that proves its efficacy in these areas.
- Famous for its sweet smell, honeysuckle is frequently used as a constituent of potpourri.
- Although the hardiness of this plant can make it difficult to manage in a garden, it’s often used as an efficient and attractive means of covering not-so-aesthetic outdoor elements, such as dilapidated walls.
- The strong, fibrous stems of honeysuckle can be used as a binding material.
What Is The Symbolism Of A Honeysuckle Flower Tattoo?
The catalog of meaning attributed to honeysuckle tattoos is even more diverse than the one attributed to the flower itself, as the symbolism can refer to very specific things, people, or events in the wearer’s life.
That said, the most common symbolic meaning behind a honeysuckle tattoo is everlasting love, but not always for a lover. It could represent somebody’s devotion to a craft, an art, their children, a way of thinking… whatever really.
You can now officially add the honeysuckle flower to your floral vernacular — yay! Symbolically, these beautiful and unique flowers are centered around loving relationships, and they exude positivity.
As long as you pick the color wisely, they make great gifts; however, even though they enjoy a very social symbolism, there’s no harm in growing them in your garden for your own private enjoyment.
The bees will love you for it, and, who knows, perhaps they’ll even ward off an evil spirit or two as a bonus!
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