Working on the hillside slope yesterday, just above where our orchard will be planted, some striking red berries caught my eye dangling about 20 feet over my head from the top of a small oak tree. We’ve seen evidence of this vine on the hillside before, but hadn’t noticed the fruit until this year. The picture below is of California Honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula).
This vine is native to California, as its name suggests, and is frequently found along streambanks and on slopes. California Honeysuckle is usually found in low lying mixed evergreen, redwood and douglas fir forests, and we have an abundance of both trees on the property here, interspersed primarily with oak, madrone and bay laurel trees. In spring the plant produces pink flowers, and red berries in the autumn. The berries are edible, but reportedly quite bitter, although apparently relished by the birds. The plant is highly drought tolerant, which it must be, to be found growing in our sandy soils, on fast draining slopes, far away from any water at this time of year. Now that we’ve identified this plant we’ll have to watch out for it again in the spring when it’s in full bloom.