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The Toxicity of Honeysuckle Berries

Updated November 21, 2016

The honeysuckle plant genus (Lonicera L.) contains 52 species. Several of these species, including the Lonicera tatarica (Tartarian honeysuckle) and Lonicera xylosteum (dwarf or fly honeysuckle) are classified as invasive and noxious.

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Family

Honeysuckle is a vascular, flowering seed plant that is a member of the Caprifoliaceae family, which includes the glossy abelia, bush honeysuckle and elderberry plants.

Appearance

The appearance of different kinds of honeysuckle can vary widely. Some are in the form of shrubs, while others appear as clinging vines, but almost all varieties feature delicate, unusually shaped flowers.

Berries

Honeysuckle plants feature clusters of bright, shiny red or black berries. These berries are characterised by the sweet, honey-like taste also present in the honeysuckle flowers' nectar.

Toxicity

Several varieties of honeysuckle berries are toxic, including the dwarf or fly honeysuckle and the Tartarian honeysuckle. Poisoning symptoms include abdominal pains, diarrhoea and vomiting; while the toxin has caused death in laboratory mice, no human deaths have been caused by honeysuckle berries, according to the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility.

Edibility

While some species of honeysuckle are mildly toxic, in a few species, the berries are actually edible, such as the Lonicera caerulea.

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About the Author

Based in northern Virginia, Rebecca Rogge has been writing since 2005. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Patrick Henry College and has experience in teaching, cleaning and home decor. Her articles reflect expertise in legal topics and a focus on education and home management.

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