Sunday, July 8, 2018

Lonicera x 'Mandarin'

There are two vines growing on the old wooden arbor next to the solarium.  When we arrived in late May in Quebec, it was after an exceptionally cold April and May, so these plants hadn't even broken bud yet, so difficult to distinguish dead stems from living ones, nor was it apparent what sorts of vines they were, although we knew one was a clematis because of last year's fruits.  

As shoots and leaves started to appear, the general identity of the other became clear.  It's a honeysuckle.  Hmm. 
 Lonicera x 'Mandarin' on an old wooden arbor

What do honeysuckles in this climate, we thought -- do they set fruit?  Are there "good" horticultural ones, aside from our eastern NA native Lonicera sempervirens?  

As the honeysuckle flower clusters enlarged, they looked similar to L. sempervirens, but larger, with similar perfoliate leaves at the base of each inflorescence.  As the flowers expanded, they changed from a deep orange to a slightly lighter orange-yellow.   Fully in flower, it's quite striking (and robust).  Yikes.  What is it? I thought, and starting looking for an answer googling "hardy Canadian orange honeysuckles."

Happily, it turns out to be a sterile hybrid, developed by the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden in the late 1980's, now patented as Lonicera x 'Mandarin.'

It's a hybrid of Lonicera tragophylla, a native of China, and Lonicera x brownii 'Dropmore Scarlet,' which is, itself, a hybrid of Lonicera sempervirens, our eastern United States native, and Lonicera hirsuta, a native honeysuckle from the upper Midwestern United States.


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