Plant: Orange Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa) Why it's choice: While the native flora of the Pacific Northwest may not be overrun...

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Plant: Orange Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa)

Why it’s choice: While the native flora of the Pacific Northwest may not be overrun with garden-worthy vines, an outstanding exception is the orange trumpet honeysuckle. When it is not in flower, you may not give this plant a second glance, but once in bloom its bright flower clusters light up the shady woodlands, which this plant calls home, like so many orange-red neon lights.

What it can do in the garden: Orange trumpet honeysuckle is a deciduous vine that will clamber up and through trees and shrubs in open shade to part sun, often reaching 20 feet high. The blue-green leaves with minute hairs at the margins are the perfect background for the colorful flower clusters, which are very attractive to hummingbirds and some butterflies. Deer, however, do not seem to be attracted to this plant.

Where to see it: This vine is native from British Columbia south to Northern California and east to Montana. In Washington you can find it on both sides of the Cascades in open woods. You can see it in Seattle in Discovery Park, along the loop trail near the south parking lot.

The facts: You will need a partially shaded location for this honeysuckle. While it is drought-tolerant once established here, west of the Cascades, it prefers moist soil. The bright orange-red blooms appear in May and June, and are followed by red berries, eaten by a variety of birds, including finches, robins, flickers and juncos. Orange trumpet honeysuckle can get off to a slow start, but be patient! Once this vine gets established it is a rapid grower.

And now for a little history: Orange trumpet honeysuckle was unknown to science until Lewis and Clark encountered and collected it near the Clearwater River in Idaho in June 1806. Natives in the region had been using the long vines for weaving, and as rope for binding.

You can find out more information about native plants, including where to buy them, from the Washington Native Plant Society, www.wnps.org.

Cynthia Spurgeon is affiliated with the Washington Native Plant Society: cspurgeon@msn.com