‘Honeysuckle’ (Lonicera) – very much at home on this island

Association Opéra di Rutali (le chévrefeuille)The following are types of honeysuckle that can be found here in Corsica :

Lonicera implexa (amplexicaule) – Lonicera Etruria (Etruscan) – Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) – sometimes called ‘a soprafrasca’ and ‘a suchjamele’.
The scientific name (Lonicera) comes from a 16th century German botanist: A Lonitzer. The meaning of the name ‘honeysuckle’ is not absolutely evident; deriving from ‘caprifolium’ in Latin, and the leafage being highly appreciated by goats, along with the fact that it climbs all over the place – not unlike the goats themselves.

A creeper in other words, especially widespread in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Leaves are evergreen and deciduous, facing and whole. The flower style is represented by lateral pairs, and the tiny calyx has five lobes – the flowers being white or pink, and stemless. In Corsica, and more particularly in the Nebbiu region, altars were decorated with them. Today, it is found in the preparation of essential oils, perfumes and cosmetic fragrances. It also contains quite an amount of salicylic acid (aspirin). One must remember that the berries are toxic, and can provoke vomiting. In Chinese medicine, honeysuckle is used as a diuretic. Concerning the language of plants, two contradictory meanings can be observed: honeysuckle from gardens would symbolise loyalty, whilst the wild one (Tra aghje e pagliaghji) would lean towards fragility in love and inconstancy.

Literature: ‘The Honeysuckle Lay’, a poem by Marie de France in 1180, evoking the story of Tristan and Iseult – two lovers compared to honeysuckle and hazel – intertwined until death ..

 

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