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(Honeysuckle family)


• Medicinal / Folk-medicinal aspects: The use of decoctions and ointments to treat various skin affections and wounds has been reported, as has an essentially cosmetic use as a perfumed hair tonic. •
• Adverse effects: Adverse skin reactions have been reported but seem to be rare. •
• Veterinary aspects: With the exception of a single report of the use of one species to treat unspecified skin diseases in mules, no evidence of use of these plants in animal dermatology has been found. •

This family of 900 species of shrubs, lianes and herbs in 33 genera is distributed through northern temperate regions, also occurring in South Africa and on tropical mountains. The principal genera are Lonicera L., (180 spp.), Scabiosa L. (80 spp.), Valeriana L. (about 200 spp.), and Valerianella Mill. (50 spp.). Until recently, the genera Sambucus L. and Viburnum L. were also included in this family, these now having been moved to the Adoxaceae. Also, genera previously classified in the Dipsacaceae, Morinaceae, and the Valerianaceae are now regarded as belonging to the Caprifoliaceae (Angiosperm Phylogeny Group 2003, Mabberley 2008). Some authorities place the genera Diervilla Mill., and Weigela Thunb. in the Diervillaceae (the bush honeysuckle family).

Honeysuckles of the genus Lonicera L., and snowberries of the genus Symphoricarpos Duhamel are found in Europe both in the wild and in cultivation as ornamental shrubs. Various species and cultivars of Diervilla Mill. and especially of Weigela Thunb. ("weigelias") are also grown, as are red valerian (Centranthus ruber DC.) and various Patrinia Juss., Scabiosa L., and Valeriana L. species (Hunt 1968/70). Horn of plenty (Fedia cornucopiae Gaertn.) is sometimes cultivated as a salad crop, as is lambs' lettuce or Lewiston cornsalad (Valerianella locusta Laterr., syn. Valerianella olitoria Pollich).

The flower heads of Dipsacus fullonum L. ssp sativus (L.) Thell., the fuller's teasel, have hooked spiny bracts. This has led to the use of the matured and dried flower heads ("burrs") for raising a nap on cloth. The fuller's teasel is regarded as a cultivated form of the wild teasel Dipsacus fullonum L. ssp fullonum (Ryder 1996). Dispacus fullonum ssp sativus and Dipsacus fullonum ssp fullonum have some horticultural value especially for use in dried flower arrangements.

Diervilla lonicera L.
(syns Diervilla canadensis Willd., Diervilla trifida Moench)
Bush Honeysuckle, Dièreville Chèvrefeuille

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Dipsacus asper Wall.

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Dipsacus fullonum L. ssp fullonum
(syns Dipsacus fullonum L. var sylvestris Schmalh., Dipsacus sylvestris Huds.)
Common Teasel, Teasel, Wild Teasel

Piffard (1881) referred to an earlier report in which it was noted that Dipsacus sylvestris has proven useful in the local treatment of warts, but provided no detail.

Lonicera L.

Ripps (1958) provided a case report of recurring pruritic allergic dermatitis in a dachshund. The owner noticed an odour of jasmine when the dog came into the house, indicating that the dog had been in contact with Lonicera [species not identified] bushes that were flowering at the time. No further episodes of dermatitis occurred after the bushes were removed.

Lonicera caprifolium L.
(syn. Lonicera pallida Host)
Italian Honeysuckle, Italian Woodbine, Perfoliate Honeysuckle

A case report of dermatitis from this species in a 46-year old female was provided by Schönfeld (1936).

Lonicera Caprifolium Extract & Lonicera Caprifolium Flower Extract [INCI; CAS RN 84603-62-3]a are recognised cosmetic product ingredients variously purported to have astringent, masking, perfuming, and/or skin conditioning properties (Standing Committee on Cosmetic Products 2019, CosIng 2019).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Lonicera confusa DC.
(syns Caprifolium confusum Spach, Lonicera dasystyla Rehder, Lonicera multiflora Champ. ex Benth., Lonicera telfairii Hook. & Arn., Nintooa confusa Sweet)
Soft-Leafed Honeysuckle

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Lonicera hypoglauca Miq.
(syns Caprifolium hypoglaucum Kuntze, Lonicera affinis Hook. & Arn. var hypoglauca Rehder, Lonicera affinis Hook. & Arn. var pubescens Maxim.)

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Lonicera involucrata Banks ex Spring
(syns Distegia involucrata Cockerell, Xylosteon involucratum Richardson)
Black Twin-Berry, Twinberry Honeysuckle

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Lonicera japonica Thunb. ex Murray
Chinese Honeysuckle, Japanese Honeysuckle

Lonicera Japonica Flower Extract & Lonicera Japonica Leaf Extract [INCI; CAS RN 223749-79-9]a are recognised cosmetic product ingredients purported to have skin conditioning properties. The cosmetic product ingredients Lonicera Japonica Callus Extract [INCI; skin protecting properties] and Lonicera Japonica Callus Lysate [INCI; antioxidant properties] are produced from Lonicera japonica grown as a tissue culture (Standing Committee on Cosmetic Products 2019, CosIng 2019).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Lonicera periclymenum L.
(syn. Lonicera serotina Gand.)
Common Honeysuckle, European Honeysuckle, Woodbine

Lonicera Periclymenum Callus Culture Extract [INCI] is a recognised cosmetic product ingredient produced from Lonicera periclymenum grown as a tissue culture. It is purported to have antimicrobial, skin conditioning, and skin protecting properties (Standing Committee on Cosmetic Products 2019, CosIng 2019).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Morina longifolia Wall. ex DC.
(syn. Morina elegans Fisch. & Avé-Lall.)
Himalayan Whorlflower, Long-Leaved Whorlflower, Langblättrige Kardendistel

This is a member of a small genus of rosette-forming, thistle-like perennials with aromatic, spiny-margined leaves and spiny bracts. The plants are found naturally from the Balkans to China but are occasionally grown as garden ornamentals elsewhere (Hunt 1968/70)

Kumar et al. (2014) referred to traditional Chinese, Tibetan, and Indian medicinal uses (including dermatological and veterinary uses) of the plants, and provided a review of the phytochemistry of the genus Morina L. Constituents reviewed included phenylpropanoids, sterols, iridoids, terpenes, lignans, neolignans, and phenolics including substances that are known to be potentially contact allergenic. Notably, the essential oil distilled from these plants has been found to comprise principally β-myrcene, but also contains geraniol formate, limonene, citral, dihydrocarveol, and cis-p-menth-1-en-3,8-diol.

Nardostachys jatamansi DC.
(syns Nardostachys grandiflora DC., Patrinia jatamansi D.Don)
Indian Spikenard, Indian Valerian, Muskroot, Nard, Spikenard

This species is the source of oil of spikenard or Indian valerian root oil, a fragrance raw material. Arctander (1960) noted that the oil is a scarce commodity and, when available, is frequently adulterated. The oil from the false jatamansi (Selinum vaginatum C.B.Clarke, fam. Umbelliferae) is a possible adulterant (Srivastava et al. 2010).

Valeriana jatamansi Jones (see below), is also known as Indian valerian and also recognised as a source of Indian spikenard oil. The two species are considered to be distinct by Mabberley (2008) and by other authorities but are seemingly widely regarded as one and the same plant in the general literature. The nomenclatural confusion (see Weberling 1975) has its origins in the work of early botanists who sought to equate the jatamansi of the Hindus with the spikenard mentioned in the Bible.

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Scabiosa L.

Several species in this genus of 100 hardy biennial and perennial herbaceous plants are cultivated in gardens.

A patch test to an unidentified species of Scabiosa in a 67-year old gardener who had developed dermatitis of the hands and face from chrysanthemums (fam. Compositae) and primulas (fam. Primulaceae), produced a negative reaction (Leipold 1938).

Scabiosa columbaria L.
(syns Scabiosa anthemifolia Eckl. & Zeyh., Scabiosa austroafricana Heine)
Dove Pincushion, Pincushion Flower, Pigeon Scabious, Small Scabious, Columbaire, Tauben-Skabiose

According to Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962), the dried plant is in common use among the African as a perfumed dusting powder, especially for infants; and the Xhosa use a preparation of the root as an application to sore eyes. They also noted that an ointment made from the charred root and kerosene is applied by the Sotho to venereal sores.

Scabiosa transvaalensis S.Moore
Wild Scabious

The Tswana use a decoction of the root as a lotion for sore eyes (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

Succisa pratensis Moench
(syn. Scabiosa succisa L.)
Blue Buttons, Devil's Bit Scabious, Teufelsabbiß, Mors du Diable, Tête de Loup

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Symphoricarpos albus Blake var albus
(syns Symphoricarpos pauciflorus W.J. Robins. ex Gray, Symphoricarpos racemosus Michx., Vaccinium album L.)
Waxberry, Snowberry, Snowball

The Songish, Saanich, and Cowichan Indians of the north-western coast of North America rubbed the berries on rashes, sores, and burns (Turner & Bell 1971).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Pammel (1911) noted that Symphoricarpos racemosus has irritant properties, but provided no further detail.

Valeriana capensis Thunb.
Cape Valerian

Referring to earlier literature, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962) noted that in the traditional medicine of southern Africa, the root is used externally and internally as an irritant.

Valeriana dioica L. var sylvatica S.Watson
(syn. Valeriana septentrionalis Rydb.)
Woods Valerian

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Valeriana jatamansi Jones
(syns Valeriana harmsii Graebn., Valeriana hygrobia Briq., Valeriana mairei Briq., Valeriana wallichii DC.)
Indian Valerian, Indischer Baldrian

Valeriana Jatamansi Rhizome Oil [INCI; CAS RN 94280-15-6]a, the volatile oil distilled from the roots, is a recognised cosmetic product ingredient purported to have antimicrobial, antiseborrhoeic, emollient, humectant, masking, and skin conditioning properties (Standing Committee on Cosmetic Products 2019, CosIng 2019). It is known as sugandhawal oil in India and Nepal where it is used in perfumery (ANSAB 2006). Valeriana Jatamansi Extract [CAS RN 94280-15-6], an extract of the roots, may also be encountered.

See also Nardostachys jatamansi DC. above, which also is known as Indian valerian.

Valeriana officinalis L.
(syn. Valeriana exaltata J.C. Mikan)
All-Heal, Capon's Tail, Garden Heliotrope, Setwall, Valerian, Baldrian, Katzenkraut, Herbe-aux-Chats, Valériane

The crude drug Radix Valerianae is obtained the dried rhizome and roots of this plant (Remington et al. 1918). This has a long history of use as a herbal sedative. The fragrance raw materials valerian oil and valerian absolute are also derived from this plant (Arctander 1960).

Bateman (1836) noted that "both vesicular and pustular affections are excited by the local irritation of blisters, stimulating plasters, and cataplasms of … Arsenic, Valerian root, &c."

The use of this plant in Italian folk veterinary medicine for the treatment of [unspecified] skin conditions in mules is noted by Viegi et al. (2003).

Weigela japonica Thunb.
(syns Diervilla floribunda Siebold & Zucc. var versicolor Rehder, Diervilla japonica DC., Diervilla versicolor Siebold & Zucc.)
Japanese Weigela

[Information available but not yet included in database]


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  • [ + 11 further references not yet included in database]

Richard J. Schmidt

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