Herb: Twinberry

Latin name: Lonicera involucrata

Synonyms: Xylosteum involucratum

Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)

Medicinal use of Twinberry:

Twinberry was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a range of complaints. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The bark is disinfectant, galactogogue, ophthalmic and pectoral. A decoction is used in the treatment of coughs and as an eyewash. A decoction of the bark has been applied to a woman's breasts to encourage milk flow. The bark has also been used as a dressing on burns. The leaves are antipruritic and ophthalmic. A poultice of the chewed leaves is applied to venereal sores, itchy skin and boils. A decoction of the leaves is used as an eye wash. The fruits are antidandruff, emetic, laxative and pectoral. An infusion is used to treat chest and stomach complaints and to cleanse the body. The mashed fruit has been rubbed into the scalp as a treatment for dandruff.

Description of the plant:


120 cm
(4 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Calcareous woods, banks of streams and swamps and in open coniferous forests, usually on limestone.

Edible parts of Twinberry:

Fruit - raw or dried. A pleasant taste. Not tasty enough to be widely sought. The only form we have tried has an incredibly bitter taste. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter.

Other uses of the herb:

A purple dye is obtained from the fruit. It is grey when tin is used as a mordant. The berries are rubbed onto the scalp as a hair tonic. It is said to prevent greyness. (don"t mix the berries with tin though!!)

Propagation of Twinberry:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 2 months cold stratification and should be sown as soon as possible in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with or without a heel, July/August in a frame. Good percentage. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, 15 - 20cm with or without a heel, November in a cold frame. Good percentage. Layering in autumn.

Cultivation of the herb:

Calcareous woods, banks of streams and swamps and in open coniferous forests, usually on limestone.

Known hazards of Lonicera involucrata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.