Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Lonicera involucrata (Twinberry)


 Plantae – Plants


 Tracheobionta – Vascular plants


 Spermatophyta – Seed plants


 Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants


 Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons






 Caprifoliaceae – Honeysuckle family


 Lonicera L. – honeysuckle


 Lonicera involucrata (Richardson) Banks ex Spreng. – twinberry honeysuckle


 Lonicera involucrata (Richardson) Banks ex Spreng. var. ledebourii (Eschsch.) Zabel – twinberry honeysuckle

Note: Throughout the years I've written short articles for our website's home pages (home pages are the front page of a website) about these plants. They are now included at the bottom of this page, and are illustrated by botanical drawings and paintings, some of which are from books published from 1500 - 1900.

A fast-growing, handsome shrub, in the honeysuckle family, Twinberry branches freely, reaching heights of 6 - 10.’

The foliage is glossy and dark green.

Small yellow flowers form in pairs.

Two pairs of telltale burgundy bracts surround twin purple-black fruit.

Twinberry likes sun or partial shade and moisture.

It is found in freshwater and brackish wetlands alike across Canada and along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to California (USDA zones 4-10).

The US Forest Service's website, Celebrating Wildflowers, chose this Northwest native shrub as their 'plant of the month' and published the following article by Sarah Malaby (www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/lonicera_involucrate.shtml).

"Twinberry honeysuckle is a long-lived deciduous shrub which grows up to 10 feet in height. Leaves are bright green, elliptical, and paired opposite each other on the stem. Flowering occurs in June-July. Small, tubular yellow flowers grow in pairs surrounded by two leafy bracts. The bracts turn from green to a striking dark red in late summer as fruits ripen. The name involucrata refers to these bracts, which are collectively called an “involucre”. The paired black berries are about one-third inch in diameter and are unpleasantly bitter tasting. Berries reportedly had limited food use, but were used by Native Americans as a dye for hair and other materials. The fruits, stems and leaves were also used for a variety of medicinal purposes.

"Twinberry honeysuckle is found throughout the western United States from Alaska to Mexico. The species also occurs east of the Great Plains in Michigan and Wisconsin, where it is rare and listed as threatened and endangered. Habitats are generally moist forest openings, swamps, streamsides, and meadow edges, ranging in elevation from sea level along the Pacific Coast to subalpine sites in the mountains.

"Like many honeysuckles, twinberry is an attractive ornamental which can be grown in the garden. Its flowers attract hummingbirds and birds feed on the fruits. Twinberry prefers moist, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade, and is tolerant of cold climates. Plants are propagated either from seed or cuttings, and are available from many nurseries."

From Homepage February 4, 2006

Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata) is a handsome shrub grows fast to 6 - 10 feet. It has glossy dark green foliage and lovely little yellow flowers in pairs. After the blooms have gone by, you'll see two pairs of purple-black fruit surrounded by burgundy bracts.

Twinberry favors sun or partial shade and moist ground. In the wild, you can find Lonicera involucrata growing in wetlands along the Pacific Coast from Canada to Alaska to California. This member of the Honeysuckle family is comfortable in USDA zones 4 - 10.

Add a few to your garden. Plant a pair on either side of a Grand Fir (Abies grandis), Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), a Port Orford Cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana), an Oregon Myrtle (Umbellularia californica) or a northwest native alder such as White Alder (Alnus rhombifolia), Red Alder (Alnus rubra) or Sitka Alder (Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata).

From Homepage July 12, 2007

What is that plant?

This is the response you're most likely to hear when friends and neighbors see your Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata), whether it's spring, summer or fall. The response you'll receive from hummingbirds and butterflies will be "thank you!"

In spring Twinberry has sweet little yellow pairs of flowers. After the flowers are done, a pair of dark purple-black fruits appear surrounded by burgundy bracts that look almost like flowers. Or do they resemble wings? You decide.

The glossy green foliage turns yellow (not particularly spectacular but pleasant) before it flutters to the ground in autumn, revealing the nicely shaped branches beneath with grayish shreddy bark.

Twinberry is comfortable in sun or part shade and it prefers a moist foot. In the wild it chooses coastal meadows, the edges of freshwater or brackish wetlands across Canada and along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to California in USDA zones 4 through 10.

The fruit of this shrub is not considered edible as it is quite bitter. The coast Native Peoples called them 'raven's food,' 'crow berry,' and 'monster's food' and held taboos against eating them. The Kwakwaka'wak w truly believed one would be unable to speak after eating the berries but they used them for pigment as did the Quileute. The Haida tried preventing hair from turning grey by rubbing the berries on the scalp. I imagine they might be useful as a dye.

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