Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), the 2014 VNPS Wildflower of the Year, is a classic example of a hummingbird-pollinated flower: bright red petals, often with contrasting yellow tones in the corolla throat, provide visual attraction, drawing hummingbirds to the flowers, where they are rewarded with a rich supply of nectar. Whereas hummingbirds have good color vision, they have a poor sense of smell. So it is not surprising that coral honeysuckle flowers are nearly scentless, at least to the human nose; even modern analytical instruments detect only traces of volatile molecules emanating from them. And open coral honeysuckle flowers, like those of many other hummingbird-pollinated species, are typically held in a slightly nodding orientation, which presumably makes it less likely that nectar will be diluted by rainwater. Coral honeysuckle exemplifies hummingbird-mediated ornithophily.

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2014

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Copyright © 2014, Virginia Native Plant Society. This article first appeared in Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society: 33:2 (2014), 1, 5, 8.

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