categoryZShrubs Shrubs List 
categoryZDeciduous Deciduous List 
categoryZBrooadleaf Broadleaf List 

HIMALAYAN HONEYSUCKLE

FLOWERING NUTMEG, PHEASANT BERRY

Leycesteria formosa

Honeysuckle Family [Caprifoliaceae]

Flowers:
month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

Berries: berryZpossible        berryZred berryZpurple berryZblack  (palatable)
berry8Sep berry8Sept berry8Oct berry8Nov

category
category8Shrubs
category
category8Deciduous
category
category8Broadleaf
status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8white flower8beetroot flower8red
inner
inner8beetroot inner8red inner8white
inner
inner8red
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZtrumpet
type
typeZtieredwhorls
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8spines stem8thorns
(spines/thorns)

9th Aug 2012, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Usually a woody garden shrub in the UK, growing to 2m high, but it does grow wild.


7th Sept 2007, Manchester, Bolton & Bury canal, Elton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Stems and leaves a little like those of the un-related Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera).


9th Aug 2012, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The reddish-purple flower spike dangles downwards and is a uniquely identifying feature.


7th Sept 2007, Manchester, Bolton & Bury canal, Elton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Leaf-pairs peel off the main stem.


7th Sept 2007, Manchester, Bolton & Bury canal, Elton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Sometimes three flowering stems emerge through a leaf-pair.


4th July 2003, a garden, Irton Road, Eskdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Leaves opposite, long-pointed and red-stemmed. Note how they seem to loop under the flowering stem as if to hold it up. The most distinguishing feature are the four reddish-purple bracts above the flowers, which are tiered axially.


9th Aug 2012, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Each tier in the flowering spike has four long-pointed reddish-purple bracts forming an umbrella over five white flowers, each with its own set of smaller reddish-purple bracts. The topmost tier has turned to berries, whist the bottom tiers' flowers have yet to open.


3rd Sept 2005, Kelsey, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are white, trumpet-shaped, and hang vertically downwards. They have five petals, five stamens with cream coloured pollen and a much longer central stigma. In cool wet summers the bracts are apt to adopt a deeper beetroot-purple colour, and the leaves a deeper green.


6th Sept 2015, a garden, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Five white filaments bearing five cream-coloured anthers attached by the 'T' method. White style with discoidal cream-coloured stigma.


9th Aug 2012, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Berries red at first, ovoidal, slightly hairy and with the remnants of the flower still attached as a 5-pointed star. As yet unopened flower on bottom tier.


7th Sept 2007, Manchester, Bolton & Bury canal, Elton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
After hot dry summers the leaves and stems may also turn reddish. The berries ripen to dark-purple then black.


11th Aug 2009, a garden, Irton Rd, Eskdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Berries still developing showing five sheltering beneath an umbrella of five pointed bracts. All of which are slightly hairy.


9th Aug 2012, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
At one stage of development the berries are concolorous with those of the bracts .


11th Aug 2009, a garden, Irton Rd, Eskdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Superior bracts overlay the inferior bracts of individual florets.


13th Aug 2007, Chesterfield Canal, Chesterfield, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
The long-pointed leaves, in opposite pairs.


6th Sept 2012, Macclesfield Canal, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Net veins from the underside of a leaf.


Not to be semantically confused with : Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) [a plant belonging to a differing family (Balsaminaceae) with similar name and whose leaves and stems are not too dissimilar]

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The drooping purple-red tier of white flowers.

No relation to : Nutmeg [an evergreen non-native tree from the Myristicaceae family with similar name].

Leycesteria is a genus of seven shrubs from Asia and SW China, only one of which (Himalayan Honeysuckle) grows wild in the UK from bird-dropped seeds of garden planted specimens.

It is thought to be non-toxic, but there have been deaths associated with Himalayan Honeysuckle in cattle in New Zealand and Australia, where it is a rampant weed. Your Author can add that all plants are adaptable to their surroundings and circumstances, and many synthesize toxins in response to some threat, whilst not ordinarily doing so. This saves the energy of fighting a non-existent enemy. Your Author can find no toxins listed for this plant.

The berries, which are red at first, becoming dark-purple then black, are palatable to Blackbirds and to Pheasants, hence one of the popular names 'Pheasant Berry'. They seem to be edible by humans, but only when at the right stage of ripeness, as otherwise they can be quite unpalatable. Although it grows in the wild in the UK it is not rampant, and is one of the few garden plants that are said to grow wild that your Author has actually found growing wild in several different places.

Related to : Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) [a plant with similar name in the same family but in a differing Genus, Lonicera].


  Leycesteria formosa  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Caprifoliaceae  

Distribution
 family8Honeysuckle family8Caprifoliaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Leycesteria
Leycesteria
(Himalayan Honeysuckle)

HIMALAYAN HONEYSUCKLE

FLOWERING NUTMEG, PHEASANT BERRY

Leycesteria formosa

Honeysuckle Family [Caprifoliaceae]