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Lonicera caerulea

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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. The plant may perform moderately well as part of the shrub layer in a temperate climate forest garden.

Background Information

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

Family: Caprifoliaceae ("honeysuckle family")

Genus: Lonicera

Species: L. caerulea

Common names

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

Etymology

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

Originally cultivated as a food crop in Siberia, northern China and northern Japan. Some cultivars have been developed at the University of Saskatchewan and the commercial growing of haskap is growing in Canada.[1]

Varieties

Characteristics

Range

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:

Norway

[Source= Plants of the World Online][2]

Morphology

Mature height 1.2-1.5 m (5"), spread 1.5 m (5")[3][4]

Flowers yellow - white.[5]

Fruits 0.8-1.0cm long, dark blue. Thin skin.[1]

Growth Habit

Fast growing, deciduous shrub.[6] Not a climber, unlike the common ornamental honeysuckles.[5]

Reproduction

Self-sterile,[4] i.e. at least 2 cultivars needed for cross pollination and good cropping.[7]

Flowering from late winter[3] to spring (March-April in UK).[4] Flowers frost tolerant.[4]

Fruiting in summer (May), often the first berries to come into fruit.[7]

Requirements

Hardiness

Soil Type

Tolerant of most soils.[4] Well-drained, organic matter rich soil is ideal.[3]

Soil pH

Tolerates acidic and alkaline soil.[3]

Shade Preference

Full sun

Shade Tolerance

Moderate shade, cropping reduced

Aspect

Exposure

Cultivation

Easy to grow

Planting

Other sources advise Potted or bare rooted plants in winter.[4]

Forest Gardening

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.[4]

Companion Planting

Allelopathy

Propagation

Semi ripe cuttings in late summer. Hardwood cuttings in winter.[4]

Maintenance

Low maintenance. Annual application of balanced fertilizer.[3] Over fertilization will lead to vigorous growth at the expense of flowers and fruit.[3] Mulch around base of plant.

Watering

Pruning

Problems

Generally resistant to pests and disesases.[6]


Harvest

Harvest when berries darken and soften.[4]

Stores for about 1 week.

Preservation

  • Freezing

Uses

Berries can be eaten raw.

  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Fruit leather

Secondary uses:

Cooking

Generally speaking, can substitute for blueberry in recipes, e.g. in pies or crumbles.[5] Seeds are very small, so no need to sieve.

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Nutritional Values

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

References