New Mexico Wildflowers: Honeysuckle Family



Flowers are organized alphabetically by genus and species. Hover over a photo series to control the images.


If you are looking here for red elderberry, based on an older guide, that species is now part of the moschatel family.

Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)

The flower heads on teasel are distinctive. There may or may not be a ring of pink-to-purplish flowers working its way up the green flower head. Otherwise, notice the spiny stems and, on this species, the long pointy leaves with serrated edges. The flower head turns brown when dry, then persists for months.  Such flower heads, from a cultivar of this species, were once used to card wool.


Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)

In New Mexico, this vining garden plant sometimes escapes into the wild. I found it growing thickly along the Rio Grande near downtown Albuquerque. The showy white flowers turn yellow as they age. The berries are black.


Tatarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)

Like Japanese honeysuckle, Tatarian honeysuckle is from the Old World. So far I've only found one escapee in the Albuquerque area, but it's common along the upper Santa Fe River (at the east end of town).  Elsewhere in North America it can be highly invasive. The bushy habit, pink flowers, and red berries show that this isn't Japanese honeysuckle. 


Now to hedge on the ID. Escaped cultivars can be either Tatarian honeysuckle or a hybrid of that species and some other honeysuckle species.


Snowberry (Symphoricarpos rotundifolius)

Snowberry is common in the middle to upper Sandias. The flower buds are pink. Once fully open, the flowers can be either pink or white—with both colors on the same bush.


Arizona Valerian (Valeriana arizonica)

Littlefield and Burns place this species among their pink to lavender flowers, but sometimes the flowers look more white than pink. The flowers occur in clusters and have five petals. The delicate, mostly low-lying leaves make this plant look rather lush for the high desert, and it's usually found in damp wooded areas. The "pinnate" leaves on the flower stalks are distinctive and worth memorizing.


Tobacco Root (Valeriana edulis)

Look for pale green clumps of tiny flowers on waist-high stalks, which rise from ground-level clusters of long, narrow leaves. While the individual flowers too small to make out clearly, the corollas are cream-colored. The roots are poisonous when raw, but Native Americans slow-cooked them to provide a winter-spring meal when other foods were in short supply.