Santa Barbara Honeysuckle

Lonicera subspicata var. subspicata

Santa Barbara honeysuckle (Lonicera subspicata var. subspicata) in bloom. Photo © Michael Charters

Endemic only to Santa Catalina Island and Santa Barbara County, the perennial Santa Barbara honeysuckle is a rare subspecies of its more common variation, Lonicera subspicata var. denudata. It is found within the ranges of Carpinteria, Goleta, Refugio Canyon, and Santa Ynez Mountains. The Santa Barbara honeysuckle can be found in scattered populations on shaded slopes in chaparral, woodland, riparian, and coastal scrub areas within this range.

This fast-growing shrub acts like a vine, growing upwards along trees and other plants, or sprawled outwards along the ground. It can grow between two to five feet tall and blooms between April and August. Its small pale yellow flowers grow as clusters at the end of the stems, which are lined with oval leaves. The fragrant flowers have long stamens that grow outward to attract pollinators. Each of these flowers eventually produces a red berry that provides food for wildlife in the fall.

The Santa Barbara honeysuckle has multiple health benefits that the Chumash used to their advantage. The leaves were boiled into tea that could soothe cold symptoms as well as treat wounds and sores.

Threats and Conservation Efforts

Land development on private properties in the Santa Ynez Mountains and vegetation clearing projects are threats to the Santa Barbara honeysuckle. One project in particular, arranged by the Forest Service, plans to clear massive amounts of vegetation on the ridge of the Gaviota Coast. ForestWatch is working hard to monitor and implement protective measures for the Santa Barbara honeysuckle from being removed.