Introduction to Haskap Berries (aka Honeyberries)

If you’ve never seen haskap before, this whole article is going to seem very strange to you. So before I go and tell you what haskap is, let me show you what haskap looks like.

Haskap Berries (aka Honeyberries)

What is Haskap?

Haskap is an amazingly hardy, fast growing, high yielding, great tasting berry bush that is relatively new to North America. It is an edible honeysuckle that originates from Siberia and can be found in Russia, China, and Japan. It goes by the name ‘Honeyberries’, ‘Blue Honeysuckle’, and ‘Haskap’. Recently, it has been developed at the University of Saskatchewan by Dr. Bob Bors for commercial production.

What makes Haskap so remarkable?

Haskap has several features that make it stand out from among all other fruits.

#1. Hardiness

Coming from Siberia, it is extremely hardy. It can withstand winter temperatures of -47° Celsius. Not only that, but its open flowers can endure -7° Celsius. They are the earliest to fruit in the season, usually in mid to late June – even earlier than strawberries.

#2. Early & High Yield

One of the greatest thing about Haskap is that it doesn’t take seven years to start producing. My seedlings were planted in the spring of 2006 and I ate my first fruit in June 2007. In the studies at the University of Saskatchewan, they were yielding 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) per plant in their 3rd year and 4 kg per plant in their 6th year. The picture below is a three-year old plant in the test patch at the University of Saskatchewan.

Haskap Bush

#3. Unique Flavor

Haskap is unlike any other fruit you’ve tried. Some have compared it’s taste to blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, saskatoons, and black current. The flavor seems to vary with varieties. They are most often compared with blueberries, but without the seeds. The seeds are similar to that of kiwis, so you don’t even notice them. As for it’s uses, basically anything you would do with blueberries, you could also do with haskap – eat them fresh, in baking, as jams & jellies, frozen, or whatever else you may think of.

You can learn more about Haskap by visiting these sites:

Or you can buy Haskap plants from DNA Gardens in Elnora, Alberta.

Edited: June 1, 2008

Read more in my post Haskap Blossoms In May or Early Haskap Berries.

222 Responses to Introduction to Haskap Berries (aka Honeyberries)

  1. Stu Reid says:

    Hi there,

    Looking at planting Haskap this spring. What varieites are you growing and what seems to be the best tasing?

    Cheers,

    Stu

  2. Ron Harvey says:

    How can someone in Michigan order plants.
    Our son is in FFA and he thought this would be a good research project for FFA.

    Thank-you for a response

  3. lisa says:

    Thank you for this info! I just bought a pair of these this past spring, and I’m really excited to see the fruit!

  4. Dave says:

    I have three varieties growing right now – Blue Bell, Berry Blue, and Cinderella. I’d be hard pressed to say which is better tasting, as I’ve only had a small amount of fruit thus far. I could better answer that question after this next season.

    However, after attending the Haskap conference at the University of Saskatchewan this past spring, I would recommend the new ‘Borealis’ variety that they’ve just released. It produces the largest fruit with the best taste. If you’re looking to grow Haskap commercially, you probably want to plant ‘Tundra’ or ‘9-91’.

    All of these varieties are available at DNA gardens – http://www.dnagardens.com – and they do ship to both Canada and the U.S. However, I believe the Borealis, Tundra, and 9-91 are only available to commercial growers right now as they are so new. I expect them to be available for home growers maybe within the year.

  5. Stu Reid says:

    Thanks for the info Dave.

    I have a tentative order for Borealis, 9-91, & 9-15 so curious to know if you got to see/taste this fruit. I have talked with Bob Bors re what might be best for the Okanagan Valley. He seems to think that the Japanese varieties might be better than the Russian/U of S selections. I have 2 Russian varieties from One Green World that I found in Vancouver. I believe they’re Blue Velvet & Blue Moon. Like you, I had limited fruit to trial last yr but the plants grew very well so I should have enough to evaluate their flavour this yr.

    Cheers,

    Stu

  6. Dave says:

    I did see and taste the haskap at the U of S test patch. I don’t think I had the fruit from those specific new varieties as they had limited supply to do their research with, but I did sample berries from several of their trial plants. There was a great variety in flavor – some very good and others very not good. The berries in “row nine” (where these new varieties were grown) were quite pleasant. I’m afraid I couldn’t describe the flavor much for you – each bush had a slightly different flavor. But I am certainly looking forward to sitting down to a bowlful of fresh haskap berries this summer!

  7. leland says:

    i’m growing a wild honeysuckle berry that’s indegenous to canada(lonicera villosa). it is very similar to haskap, i’m wondering if anyone knows if it is the same plant, and if it can be a pollinator for haskap.

  8. leland says:

    to answer my own question;
    i have done some research, and i have found that haskap is related to the wild canadian variety i grow. it is a short bush(under 50cm )that is very hardy(i have collected fruit in zone 0). it prefers moist soils, but it will tolerate dry, and it has tasty fruit similar to blueberry, but with less acid and less sugar. it ripens irregularly and early and has hairy grey twigs. i beleive that it would be a very good pollinator for all haskap varieties,like wild plums are an excellent pollinator for hybrid plums. if anyone is interested in seeds i will try to provide them(my bushes are very young still)

  9. Dave says:

    Hey, good information. Have you talked to Dr. Bob Bors at the University of Saskatchewan? He would be very interested to hear from you. I believe he is actively seeking wild Canadian Haskap.

  10. Kathy says:

    Does anyone have a good recipe for honeyberry jam or jelly? If so, I would love to try it. We have a good crop this year and would like to make some good preserves.

    Thanks for your help! Please send the recipe to:
    [email protected]

  11. Dave says:

    At last year’s haskap conference at the U. of Sask., it was said that you could substitute haskap (honeyberries) in any recipe that calls for blueberries. I’ve never personally tried it, but if you can find recipes for blueberries, I’m guessing they would turn out pretty good with haskap.

  12. Alex says:

    Very nice article. I’m interested in trying one bush. Do I need two for pollination?

  13. Lorraine Hill says:

    One very intersting palnt: the Honeyberry. I’ve been trying in vain to find it in Moose Jaw in the spring; any suggestions for acquiring this bush?

    TIA
    Lorraine Hill
    887 Cartier Ave
    Moose Jaw SK S6H 1L9

  14. Dave says:

    Check out DNA Gardens DNA gardens – http://www.dnagardens.com

  15. I just ordered two…I have lots of blueberries but this looked so much more interesting. I love hardy plants!

  16. Brent Jackson says:

    I live on the west coast. Can you tell me where I might be able to purchase this plant?

    Thank you

  17. Ewa says:

    Does anyone know what is the best fertilizer system for huskup>
    Ewa

  18. kavita says:

    I live in Montana and am always looking for suitable fruit for our area. I have never encountered it here, and I want to be cautious of planting something that could become invasive. Is there any possibility of such a thing happening.

    • Dave says:

      Haskap doens’t sucker or anything. It just spreads when the little birdies that eat all your berries drops the seeds here and there…. 🙂

  19. Marie says:

    Has anyone successfully grown honeyberries (Haskap) in the Vancouver BC area? I figure the wet climate may do them in. Other than putting a couple of plants in well draining soil, sunny location, what else might I do to help their survival here?

  20. Mary Caputo says:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I am interested in purchasing a few Haskap plants. Do you ship? If not, can you please tell me where I might be able to purchase them either locally (Salt Lake City, Utah) or by mail?

    Thanks,

    Mary

  21. Reznil says:

    Mary,

    Vegetolab http://www.vegetolab.com in Canada said they would ship Borealis Haskaps to me in New York when they have more available in 2010. Borealis is supposed to be the best variety out there. They are the only place that I could get that variety shipped to me. For other varieties, Raintree nursery and One Green World nursery (both US) have them on their websites.

    Good luck!

  22. Cdow says:

    I just got home from purchasing plants at our local Home Hardware…one Berry Smart Belle & one Berry Smart Blue….(Latin: Lonerica edulis kamtschatica) supplied by a company called Bylands.

  23. Jack says:

    I just got home from purchasing plants at our local Home Hardware…one Berry Smart Belle & one Berry Smart Blue

    These are not haskap. See http://haskap.ca/frequently_asked_questions.htm#Q16 for the definition of haskap.

  24. Rose says:

    DNA Gardens has just sold out to Prairie Tech Propagation in Bonnyville, -AB (prairietechpropagatioh.com). DNA no longer operates a nursery, and Prairie Tech are sold out of haskap for the time being. Their phone is 866-977-8733

  25. Clayton says:

    I am a home researcher/gatherer/grower of Edible Blue Honeysuckle. Only those released by the U of S are properly called Haskap as this is the name they want to use to market into Japan. So far I have about 200 plants and counting as I grow from seed and will try to make some selections in the future.
    My sense is that there is a potential good market for juice from these berries since you will notice many of the juices on the shelf are now adding the really dark blue fruit such as Aronia to their mix to bring in the antioxidants. The U of S has some good growing instructions for machine harvest and this could be a good cash crop for some folks in the near future.

    If Leland is still reading here, I would be interested in seeds of your wild selection with some sense of what the pollinator is.

  26. laurie says:

    I planted 2 honeyberries late last summer on the west side of my deck in red deer alberta. This spring these 2 plants were the first plants to flower in my yard and they have grown immensely since planted. I have noticed now they are covered with small berries. these seem to be a very promising plant and tremendously hardy, as this winter we had temps of -45 C and had frosts into the first week of June this year.

  27. Bob Styles says:

    Hi, Laurie (#30) what Vars,of honeyberries did you plant ?, it sounds like you have two Quality bushes as well as doing a first-class job of planting,feeding & watering, winter mulching etc. do some of the AB nurseries carry them ? I suppose you know that One Green World, of Oregon WN Carries 12 vars. yet I believe if we Keep in touch, UV of Sask. will have all the info. required to make the right choices and successfully grow this intresting new fruit for the colder areas of western Canada. the present challange appears to be in marketing as well, yet even as a small space hobbiest we can all have a little part in growing, using, and sharing which in due time will bring this product into common use and demand, Bob Styles fmr T&S landscaping

  28. Roman says:

    What is the berry called in Russian?

  29. Monica says:

    I live in Northern Alberta( hours north of Edmonton) and have grown a haskap shrub and it is doing very well even in my zone of 2. Howeever the berries are very bitter…what am I doing wrong?

  30. Debbie says:

    Do the borealis need to be cross pollunated?

  31. Krista says:

    We have all varieties available, planted in our yard via DNA gardens before they retired. This is our third year. I make the honeyberries in a compote and use for fresh waffles, it tastes amazing. I also use for ice-cream. We added 2 new bushes this spring from Saskatoon Farm just outside Calgary.

  32. Mike says:

    # 33 Monica Says:
    July 7th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    I live in Northern Alberta( hours north of Edmonton) and have grown a haskap shrub and it is doing very well even in my zone of 2. Howeever the berries are very bitter…what am I doing wrong?

    It sounds like you do not have a haskap plant. Haskap varieties are developed only by the U of Saskatchewan. To date they have released 5 varieties – Tundra, Borealis, 9-15, 9-91, and 9-92. They need a pollinator such as Berry Blue or Blue Belle.

    There are a number of varieties that come from Russia that are sometimes called haskap. They are not!!! They have names like Berry Blue, Cinderella, Svetlana. There are a number of Polar varieties – Polar Jewel, Polar Frost, Polar Spring, Polar Night.

    All of these Russian non-U of Sask varieties were first introduced by One Green World Nursery in Oregon – http://www.onegreenworld.com//index.php?cPath=4_112 who renamed Tomichka and Czech #17 to Blue Bell and Berry Blue. They will be taller, faster growing plants than the USask varieties.

    USask publishes a list of their licenced propagators – http://www.fruit.usask.ca/2009Propagatorswebsite.pdf

    If you want to be sure that you are buying haskap plants, look for the names Borealis and Tundra. It’s more likely that you’ll find Borealis since this is more suited to hand picking than Tundra which is adapted for machine picking by commercial growers.

  33. bernard king says:

    There are two russian names used for haskap as far as I am aware. Jimolost and jumula. One is specific for haskap and the other can also apply to ordinary blueberry. I think Jimolost is the specific one.

  34. BJ says:

    I have 4 bushes planted too close to the house. They were put in by the former owner so I dont know what variety I have – at least 8 years old, probably more than 10.

    I hate asking this question as I dont like the idea of doing this. Does anyone know if they can be cut back? And how drastically? I am guessing spring would be the time to try it?

    Our house will be getting a makeover and the bushes are already too big for their area. Would it be advisable to cut them back before the renos?

  35. Irene says:

    Just been reading the comments. Prairietech Propagation has been propagating a lot of DNA Gardens’ stock, including Honeyberries (Haskaps). We have a very good supply of honeyberries left, and we are just starting to take orders.

    We have Tundra, Borealis, U of S cvs 9-92, 9-91 and 9-15 plus Berry Belle and Berry Blue. Berry Blue is a good pollinator for the U of S cvs.

    Also, have sour cherries, dwarf sour cherries and some other fruit trees.

    Our website is under construction and cultivar, pricing/ordering info will be posted there but in the meantime, if you would like more info, contact us.

    We do have a minimum order requirement of $250 per order and 5 plants per cultivar.

    Prairietech Propagation
    Tel: 1-866-977-8733 or [email protected] telus.net

  36. Marti says:

    Does Prairietech have Wood Lilies, like DNA did?
    If not, does anyone know where I could get Wood Lilies in bulk for a good price (DNA’s were 20 for $43 postage paid)?
    I know these are a Canadian native, but my Mom had something like these in her garden in SouthCentral Michigan, where I grew up.
    Thank you!

  37. Bob Bors says:

    Regarding #39. Haskap/blue honeysuckles can be drastically cut back almost to the ground and it will come back if cut back either in spring or mid summer. In the breeding program I tried to kill off some undesireable ones because they were next to really good ones. I did this in Mid July. They all survived! But I never tried it this time of year.

    But late winter, early spring pruning would likely be the best for a quick recovery.

  38. Irene says:

    Re Marti’s question about wood lilies. We don’t have any yet of salable size but we do have the cultures so it might be something we have for the future. Keep an eye on our website http://www.prairietechpropagation.com for updates.

  39. Marti says:

    Just surfing and see that Irene answered my Wood Lily question. Thanks so much, I’ll be watching!

  40. suzanne says:

    where can I buy the plants in quantity? I live on the West Coast. The one supplier, DNA, is out of business.
    Thanks

  41. Judy says:

    Re Suzanne’s comment. See comment #40 from Irene. Good discounts on large volume orders.

  42. Karen says:

    Soluation to bitterness: I have found that with apple trees and other fruits, it is lacking in fertilizer. When I applied either chicken or barnyard manure, it sweetens the fruit. Don’t overdo the fertilizer or you can kill the plants.

  43. Monica Allen says:

    I learned about haskaps too late to acquire any this year, but have been reading everything I can get my hands on regarding this berry. Thanks for the post, now I’m even more excited to plant some in 2010! And it was great to see Dr. Bors and Irene share info as well.

    This is a great site, I’ve picked up lots of practical strategies for my Edmonton garden. Thanks!

  44. Irene says:

    RE #48 from Monica about being too late to get haskaps. Prairietech Propagation in Bonnyville, Alberta has a good supply of haskaps left for 2010, so Monica, it’s not too late to get some. We carry the U of Saskatchewan cvs Borealis, Tundra, 9-15, 9-91, and 9-92. We also have Smart Berry Belle and Smart Berry Blue (pollinator). You can visit http://www.prairietechpropagation.com or call 1-866-977-8733. Our plants are multi-stemmed and about 12″ tall – great quality!!

  45. peter nicholls says:

    can anyone supply me with some honeyberry seeds please to the uk my e-mail address is [email protected]

  46. Monica Allen says:

    Thanks Irene! I’ve been poring over your website for months, and am definitely planning an order in the next few weeks. I just need to work out how many my dad will need (he’s got more space than my teeny city lot) and we will be good to go.

    It’s funny, I am so excited about this plant even though I haven’t tried the fruit yet. I have a U-pick scoped out though, when their honeyberry crop comes in this spring I plan to be there!

  47. peter nicholls says:

    i have not had one person contact me regarding seeds for haskap are they available to the uk i would just like to try a few as my soil is not suitable for blueberries and i dont want to grow in containers

  48. Dave says:

    Hi Peter, You may have to contact some of the above mentioned suppliers to see if they can ship to the UK.

  49. peter nicholls says:

    thanks dave at last contact are they allowed to send seed to the uk i have e-mailed quite afew people and they dont reply can you suggest anyone.

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