This article discusses cultivation, uses and preservation of Lonicera caerulea (Honeyberry / Haskap berry), a cool temperate climate shrub with edible fruit in the honeysuckle family. It is native to boreal forests in temperate Eurasia and North America. The plant may perform moderately well as part of the shrub layer in a temperate climate forest garden.

Background Information[edit | edit source]

Approximately 180 honeysuckle species are identified. They are arching shrubs or twining vines, some are fragrant and are grown as garden ornamentals. Most have mildly poisonous berries. Other edible honeysuckles include Lonicera augustifolia (Narrow-leaf Honeysuckle) and Lonicera villosa (Mountain Fly Honeysuckle).

Taxonomy[edit | edit source]

Family: Caprifoliaceae ("honeysuckle family")

Genus: Lonicera

Species: L. caerulea

Common names[edit | edit source]

  • Honeyberry
  • Sweetberry Honeysuckle
  • Haskap (haskappu, hascap, hascup)
  • Blue-berried Honeysuckle / Blue honeysuckle
  • Honeyberry Honeysuckle
  • Deepblue Honeysuckle
  • Bluefly honeysuckle
  • Edible honeysuckle
  • Swamp fly honeysuckle

Etymology[edit | edit source]

Lonicera after Renaissance botanist Adam Lonicer.W

Caerulea/caeruleus dissimilation of caeluleus, derived from caelum ("sky, heaven") + -uleus (diminutive suffix indicating small size or youth).

Haskap from Ainu language meaning "little present on the end of the branch".

History[edit | edit source]

The Ainu people knew of the plant centuries ago.[1] Originally cultivated as a food crop in Siberia, northern China and northern Japan.[2] Thought to have been first cultivated in Russia in the 1950s.[1] Some cultivars have been developed at the University of Saskatchewan and the commercial growing of haskap is growing in Canada.[2]

Varieties[edit | edit source]

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Range[edit | edit source]

They are only found in the North. Although there are Haskaps native to North America, they are fairly rare occuring and have berries smaller than a pea. Those varieties native to Asia have larger fruit, thought to be why the Russians and the Japanese cultivated them first.[1]

Native to:

Albania, Amur, Austria, Baltic States, Belarus, Bulgaria, Buryatiya, Chita, Czechoslovakia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Kamchatka, Khabarovsk, Korea, Kuril Is., Magadan, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Primorye, Romania, Sakhalin, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yakutskiya, Yugoslavia

Introduced into:


[Source= Plants of the World Online][3]

Morphology[edit | edit source]

Mature height 1.2-1.5 m (5"), spread 1.5 m (5")[4][5]

Flowers yellow - white.[6]

Fruits 0.8-1.0cm long, dark blue. Thin skin.[2] Unique flavor variably compared to blueberry (but more tart + acidic), raspberry, saskatoon, blackcurrant

Growth Habit[edit | edit source]

Fast growing, deciduous shrub.[7] Not a climber, unlike the commonly known ornamental honeysuckles.[6]

Reproduction[edit | edit source]

Self-sterile,[5] i.e. at least 2 cultivars needed for cross pollination and good cropping.[8]

Flowering from late winter[4] to spring (March-April in UK).[5] Flowers frost tolerant.[5]

Fruiting in summer (May), often the first berries to come into fruit.[8]

Lifespan approx. 25-30 years.[9] New plants produce first (limited) crop in second growing season. 3-4 year old plants start cropping heavily.[9]

Requirements[edit | edit source]

L. caerulea grows on the edge of swamps and wetlands in the wild.[1]

Hardiness[edit | edit source]

Soil Type[edit | edit source]

Tolerant of most soils.[5] Well-drained, organic matter rich soil is ideal.[4] Semi-toleratant of wet soil conditions, but not clay.[9]

Soil pH[edit | edit source]

Tolerates acidic and alkaline soil,[4] from pH 4-8, ideal pH 5.5-6.5.[9]

Shade Preference[edit | edit source]

Full sun

Shade Tolerance[edit | edit source]

Moderate shade, cropping reduced

Aspect[edit | edit source]

Exposure[edit | edit source]

Not tolerant of high winds.[9] Choose or create a sheltered site (e.g. see windbreaks).

Cultivation[edit | edit source]

Easy to grow

Planting[edit | edit source]

Other sources advise Potted or bare rooted plants in winter.[5] For the first few years deep water to promote healthy root system development.[9]

Forest Gardening[edit | edit source]

Like many berries, cropping is reduced in shade. In this regard, there are potentially more productive options for the shrub layer which will perform slightly better in partial shade (e.g. Gooseberry, Jostaberry, currants). However, marked hardiness, early cropping, disease resistance and low maintenance are potentially useful factors. Honeyberry plants may be best positioned in relatively sunnier patches in a forest garden to perform best, and they may benefit from the wind-sheltered microclimate provided by nearby trees.

One author of a forest gardening textbook gave honeyberry a "good" rating (2 out of 4) to describe the plants potential to perform in a temperate forest garden.[5]

Companion Planting[edit | edit source]

Allelopathy[edit | edit source]

Haksaps do not compete well with grass or other palnts with deeper roots.[1]

Propagation[edit | edit source]

Difficult from seed. The tiny seeds only germinate after deep chilling (cold stratification). Put in a freezer for 3-4 months.[9] Easier to buy young plants or take cuttings.

Semi ripe/softwood cuttings in late summer. Hardwood cuttings in winter.[5]

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

Low maintenance. Annual application of balanced fertilizer.[4] Over fertilization will lead to vigorous growth at the expense of flowers and fruit.[4] Mulch around base of plant.

Watering[edit | edit source]

Pruning[edit | edit source]

Problems[edit | edit source]

Generally resistant to pests and disesases.[7]

  • Birds: some species will damage the buds, others will eat the crop. Consider using nets or cages to keep birds off.[9]

Harvest[edit | edit source]

Harvest when berries darken and soften.[5] Darkening starts from skin and goes towards center of fruit meaning they can be blue on the outside before they are fully ripe, tasting bitter. Wait until berries are deep purple - red on the inside.[9]

Stores for about 1 week.

Approx. 2.3-2.7kg (5-7 lbs) per mature plant.[9]

Preservation[edit | edit source]

  • Freezing

Uses[edit | edit source]

Berries can be eaten raw.

  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Fruit leather

Secondary uses:

Cooking[edit | edit source]

Generally speaking, can substitute for blueberry in recipes, e.g. in pies or crumbles.[6] Seeds are very small, so no need to sieve.

Add recipes or links here

Nutritional Values[edit | edit source]

  • High in antioxidants (3x higher than blueberries).
  • High in Vitamin C
  • High in calcium

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Williams, S; Bors, B (2017). Growing Fruit in Northern Gardens. Coteau Books. ISBN 9781550509144.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Cockrall-King, J (2016). Food Artisans of the Okanagan: Your Guide to the Best Locally Crafted Fare. TouchWood Editions. ISBN 9781771511537.
  3. Lonicera caerulea (Plants of the World Online).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Honeyberry (Royal Horticultural Society).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Crawford, M (2016). Creating a Forest Garden: working with nature to grow edible crops. Green Books. ISBN 9781900322621.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Whitefield, P (1996). How to make a Forest Garden. Permanent Publications. ISBN 9781856230087
  7. 7.0 7.1 Pemberton, T; Gearing, D; Marsh, C; (2019). Edible Shrubs. Plants for a Future. ISBN 9781791954949.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Toensmeier, E; Bates, J (2013). Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City. Chelsea Green Publishing. ISBN 9781603583992.
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 Blueberry Honeysuckle How to Grow Honey Berry (Vegetable Garden Reference Center).

Discussion[View | Edit]

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.