Honeysuckle Family

Pink Honeysuckle © KKorbholz

Caprifoliaceae (cap-ree-foh-lee-AY-see-ee)

Iconic Features

  • Mostly shrubs and vines
  • Flowers often bell-shaped or tubular
  • Inferior ovary
  • Fleshy fruit

Description (Jepson)

  • Eudicotyledons (eudicots) – a major lineage of flowering plants including most plants traditionally described as dicots and generally characterized by
    • 2 seed leaves (dicotyledon)
    • Netted (reticulate) leaf venation
    • Flower parts in fours and fives
    • Pollen grains with 3 pores (tricolpate)
    • Vascular bundles in stem arranged in a ring
    • Taproot system
  • Shrub to small tree or vine; evergreen or deciduous
  • Stem core is pithy (like styrofoam)
  • Leaves
    • Simple (not divided into leaflets) or compound (divided into leaflets)
    • Opposite (2 leaves at each junction with stem)
    • Lack stipules (pair of leaf-like structures at the base of the leaf stalk)
  • Flowers
    • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) in many forms, with flowers often in pairs
    • Bisexual flowers often bell-shaped or tubular
    • Flower parts in fives: usually 5 small fused sepals (protective cover for bud), 5 fused petals, and 5 stamen (male flower parts), attached to the petals
    • Ovary inferior (below the attachment of other flower parts)
  • Fruit is a berry (a usually multi-seeded fruit with a fleshy ovary wall) or a drupe (a fleshy fruit with usually 1 seed in a hard inner shell — a stone fruit)


  • Approximately 220 species worldwide
    • Includes snowberries and honeysuckles
  • Stem core is pithy (like styrofoam)
  • Scientific name from the included genus Caprifolium (now Lonicera), from the Latin caper, “goat,” and folium, “leaf”
    • The common name for honeysuckle in German, French, and Italian also means “goat leaf,” suggesting that honeysuckles may be a favorite food of goats
  • Several traditional members of this family, including elderberries (Sambucus), viburnums, and twinflower (Linnaea), have been moved to other families
  • Represented by 4 species at Edgewood

See General References

Browse Some Edgewood Plants in this Family