A blanket of pink cascades across the hillside and gently sways in a gust of wind. Carrying the warmth of the Mediterranean and the sweet smell of blossoming Sulla flowers on its wings, the breeze moves through the foothills of Sicily’s mountains to thaw the roots still clutching on to colder days now passed. In a wave of vibrancy, much like the bursting buds of the almond blossom tree, the arrival of wild Sulla flowers signal an awakening of the island’s earth as she welcomes the warmer seasons.
Growing up to 3 feet tall, the perennial Sulla plant, otherwise known as the French honeysuckle, is highly drought tolerant and is known to balance soil nitrogen levels and prevent erosion. Mostly grown in the wild throughout Sicily, in other parts of Italy, North Africa, and even New Zealand, the plant has been cultivated by farmers during fallow years to balance their soils and feed their animals. Used as fodder for animals, due to its nutrient density and beneficial digestive properties, studies have suggested that cows fed sulla plants rather than rye grasses produce higher milk yields and lower methane levels.
Lucky for us, its benefits don’t stop short with animals. When brought into the careful custody of bees, the striking pink flowers create stunning honey filled with fruity, floral, honeysuckle sweetness that has become a favorite among honey enthusiasts worldwide. Used to treat flu symptoms and stomach aches, Sulla honey is known for its antibacterial and antioxidant qualities. Creamy, almost white in color, the luscious honey is also used to treat oily skin, as a natural toner, and to prevent acne.
While we could (and do) eat Sulla honey straight from the jar, we also love incorporating its nuanced and delicate sweet flavors into different dishes and beverages. Whipped into yogurt, made into a simple syrup for your favorite botanical cocktail, or to flavor your panna cotta, there are endless options to choose from. Let us know your favorite ways to use Sulla honey in the comments below.