Caprifoliaceae are perennial and mostly woody plants that include vines, shrubs, and small trees. The leaves are opposite and usually linear, and sometimes join together to form a disc around the stem (as in the honeysuckles.) The 4 or 5 lobed calyx is usually small, and the 4 or 5 lobed corolla often forms a substantial tube. The lobes may be equal, or formed into two lips with 4 lobes and the upper and 1 large lobe for the lower. The stamens attach to the tube, aternating with the lobes, with the fruiting portion of the pistil below where the calyx and corolla lobes originate. The fruit, usually a fleshy berry, has 2 to 5 seed forming divisions.
The Honeysuckle family is best known domestically in our area from the climbing garden honeysuckle, a close relative of our local Lonicera hispidula vacillans (Hairy Honeysuckle). Many of the wild native species will do well in the garden also, if given the proper conditions they need. The trees (Red Elderberry and Blue Elderberry) can get quite large, and the honeysuckles and snowberries spread aggressively, so they will need room and tending to.
On Montara Mountain, members of Caprifoliaceae include:
Symphoricarpos mollis - (Creeping Snowberry)
Flowers: Tubular yellow-orange-reddish, one-half inch long, protruding from conspicuous red papery bracts.
Blooms: February - May.
Leaves: Oval, folded upward; in pairs
Fruit/Seeds: "Twin berries", purple - black on a dark red papery bract. May - June.
Location: Moist slopes, all areas.
Status: Native - Common.
Photo by Bill and Barbara VanderWerf
Further description & Comment: 5 - 10 ft tall, decidious with upright branches.
Twinberry is always a delight to come across on the trails - the one flower or berry bract you first notice is usally connected to a huge bush sitting off the trail.
It will do well in the garden if you have a wet spot for it - something for that wet corner drainage area.
Image to the left shows the developing berry bracts.
Flowers: White, tiny, 5 petals; in wide or flat - topped upright clusters. Note: Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa racemosa) has flower clusters that are taller than wide, in dome - like clusters.
Blooms: May - June
Leaves: Five to seven toothed leaflets per leaf.
Fruit/Seeds: Tiny blue - black balls; in flat - topped clusters. These are the elderberries in eleberry jams and preserves.
Location: Moist areas, but very widespread. Hazelnut, Montara Mountain, Brooks Falls trails in San Pedro Valley Park, along San Pedro Mountain Road above Pacifica.
Status: Native - Common.
|Further description & Comment: Up to 20 feet tall, deciduous. Aside from the difference in the shape of the flower raceme, S. mexicana puts out new leaves and blooms later in the year than it's close relative, Sambucus racemosa racemosa (Red Elderberry), and has larger leaves. S. mexicana's range is limited to moist areas near creeks and drainages while S. racemosa has a wider range and is adapted to drier habitats.|
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