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. peter nicholls says:

    thank you dave will try some of the suppliers

  2. peter nicholls says:

    hi all, still having a problem getting seed for honeyberries it seems they are not licensed from canada to the uk can anyone tell me if they grow true from seed and are seeds available from anywhere in europe.sorry to be a pain but it is now becoming an adiction i want to grow these plants.thank you peter

  3. kerim gonan says:

    have you honey berry seeds?

  4. peter nicholls says:

    hi kerim i still cannot get any seed do you know where i could get some.thank you peter

  5. peter nicholls says:

    hi clayton, could you e-mail me please i would like to ask you some questions about haskaps i sent you an e-mail but i dont know if it was the correct address mine is [email protected] thank you.peter

  6. Theresa says:

    Hi, just stumbled on your site looking for information on growing blueberries in Alberta. Since you have been suggesting that honeberries are similar and more hardy here than the blueberry, can I ask if they have the same nutrient and antioxidant qualities often spoken of with the blueberry?
    Are there places that are growing these plants for commercial use?
    Thanks for your help.
    Theresa

  7. babka says:

    here is a bit, from some russian work, on blue honeysuckles
    the jam from these is impressive (mix it with strawberries)

    “The medicinal values of fruits have long been appreciated for their therapeutic effect on cardiovascular diseases; they are known to reduce blood pressure and there are claims of curative effects for malaria and gastrointestinal diseases. Plekanova and Streltsyna (1993) report exceptionally high vitamin C content, ranging from 50-70 mg/100 gm fresh weight. Fruits are also high in anthocyanins and phenolic compounds which provide the health benefits due to antioxidant properties. Due to the high stability of the dark-red pigments when processed, these fruits are very suitable for making juice as well as providing a good source of food coloring for other products”

  8. Marg says:

    Parkland Agroforestry Products Inc. is a licenced grower group of Haskap plants, located in Saskatchewan, but shipping Haskap plants anywhere across Canada. We have a large stock of Tundra and Borealis, as well as a carefully selected pollinator called Northern Jewel for sale. This pollinator is similar in size and taste to the Tundra, and blooms in the exact timeline as well. We have been involved in the trials and worked closely with the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Bors, from the earliest days of Haskap. We will be conducting a large scale orchard planting demonstration in Birch Hills, Sask. this spring and invite anyone interested in this project to contact us at www:parklandagroforestry.com

  9. Bob says:

    Hi All!

    Ever since I tried a few Haskap berries at a local nursery, I have been craving more! I was wondering if Haskap bushes would make a decent hedging bush? There is a long empty bed back there along the fence and I’d rather try something other than hedging cedars! Can they be pruned? Will they stay a manageable size? If not, any other ideas?

    Thanks for info! Bob

  10. babka says:

    hi Bob, haskaps are a smaller, less vigorous bush than some of their russian counterparts (correct me if i’m wrong here).
    But they would make a decent hedge given time, and quite manageable, maybe not very dense
    If it is a long row, and cost enters your decision, think about sandcherries.
    we got 50 sandcherries for a little over $100, made a 100ft row
    in our third year we got mountains of berries
    but again, not a very dense hedge

    hope it helps

  11. Al N says:

    The Saskatoon Farm has a couple of varieties they got from Russa for sale now. http://www.saskatoonfarm.com

  12. Paul Charlesworth says:

    I have a couple of varieties of honeyberry that came from places such as millernurseries.com, parkseed.com, and gurneys.com, but was wondering whether they can be pollinated by a regular honeysuckle plant.

  13. faye says:

    If interested in purchasing the honeyberries, I got mine in Westbank,BC at Byland Nurseries , Just out of Kelowna.They had the Borielus and the Tundra. One had Haskap on the label too but don’t recall which one. The plants are small but from what I can gather they grow really quickly?

  14. Mondo says:

    I purchased what I thought were Haskap from the U of S in 2007 from DNA gardens. My understanding was they were a taste like blueberry/raspberry. My first year was full of disappointment because they were so horribly bitter. I thought it was because it was their first year. But that never got better. Then I read that the Tundra and Borealis are the ONLY true haskaps from UofS. So what the hell did I get? I bought 2 of each variety they had and was ready to rip them out the next year. I held off and found that in a sauce with enough sugar they could be made acceptable to eat but still feel that DNA misrepresented these as Haskap, and it’s not like they were cheap!!! So hundreds of dollars later I advise anyone interested to make sure they try these before they buy these. Good luck.

  15. Andrew says:

    Great forum. A few questions:
    1. Has anyone here tried growing haskaps in Calgary?
    2. I will need two plants for cross pollination, correct?
    3. Does the cross pollinator need to be a haskap, or another related plant?
    4. Is there anywhere in Calgary to buy these?

    I have a rental property with a big south facing back yard plus a fence to keep the roots cold to prevent early flowering, to I would like to put as many fruit bushes and trees in as possible.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  16. I’m growing them in Sherwood Park ( Edmonton area ) and they grow very well in an area that does not get a tremendous amount of sun either. And yes, I believe they do need another variety for pollination. We have Blue Belle and Cinderella, and the newer Borealis. The Borealis is too new to tell, but the Cinderella has the best taste!

  17. Lynn says:

    Hi
    Just found your site. I bought 2 Honeyberries from Eagle Lake Nursery just east of Calgary, Alberta. I gather it was probably a mistake from reading your posts.
    I bought Polar Jewel and Berry Blue. I gather that these will be bitter.
    They had a 3rd variety. I haven’t seen anyone mention it. I think it started with a ‘K’.

    Should I bother planting them or see if I can return them?
    Thanks
    Lynn

  18. Connie says:

    I have both Berry Belle and Berry Blue, and we don’t find either one of them bitter. Their flavor is very intense, however. When I bite into one I always think – Oh, blueberry…no wait a minute – black currant! My boys loved the jam and the tarts that I made last year, but my mother found the flavor too strong. I have a tiny one year old Borealis, but of course I don’t know what it tastes like yet – maybe I’ll get a few berries from it this year.
    Connie

  19. Elena says:

    Lynn, you might want to keep Berry Blue as a pollinator, since there is no word yet on the magic pollinator from UofSask.

    Anyone bought from http://www.haskapcentral.com/ ? It looks like an “alive” website and doesn’t want you to by them by a hundred. The price listed for plugs is 17$, but if you buy two, it drops to $9.50 per plug. I am guessing that the plugs are under 5 kg in weight, so should be under $30 per plant with shipping.

  20. Jean says:

    Hello out there

    didnt get my message across yesterday so will try again

    Im a retired gardener living in the fraser valley british columbia and have just obtained the Haskap (Tundra) honeysuckle plants and now since cant find the pollinators for them in the fraser valley would appreciate if anyone out here could tell me where I
    would be able to purchase the Borealis ,as it suppose to be compatable for the tundra
    Any help would be appreciated
    my e-mail address is [email protected]
    thanks again Hoping to hear f rom someone
    Jean

  21. Russ says:

    We have been growing honeyberries for the past 5 years and have found that unless you cover the bushes with netting you will get absolutely nothing. The waxwings and robins seem to know exactly when to start picking (lol) and will decimate your crop as soon as the berries start to grow to any size. Our bushes are blue bell and berry blue and taste wonderful. We found that leaving the berry on the bush until it is fully ripe improves the flavor and increases the sweetness.
    The berry has many uses , jams .jelly,syrup and can replace rasins and cranberrioes in muffins cakes and breads, also makes an excellent addition to cereals , yogurts and salads.
    Good luck in growing.
    Russ

  22. jeanie says:

    I Fell in love with these berries from Saskatchewan. My friend June the bush woman gave me a jar of jam so now I am hooked.

  23. Doug says:

    We bought our place in the fall of 08. on it is 17 Honeyberry bushes. Their is 5 groups of 3 bushes each – unknown variety, and two shorter bushes(2 1/2 feet tall) that produce small succulent fruit( variety unknown.
    Is their a book out on Honeyberries?
    In 2009 we ordered in 40 Borealis, by spring of 2010 sixteen survived the winter and are growing well. We are in zone 1a.

  24. I have ‘Borealis’ variety, need another variety for pollination. Good post. Very interesting plant!

  25. Good luck to all that are experiencing the fruits of this shrub.

    We have ample stock for this fall’s planting and encourage you to visit http://www.haskapcentral.com for volume pricing.

    Just a note – pollinator = insect

    pollinizer = plant

    We look forward to hearing from you!

  26. Mark Hinricksen says:

    I have been taking cuttings of Haskaps…(Borealis and Tundra)…and (Berry Smart Blue). I’ve never seen easier cuttings to take. Stabbed cuttings are usually very well rooted and transplanted into 4″ pots within 45 days. I started with 20 this spring and now have about 500. Can’t wait till next year. Plan to grow them in Eastern Montana.

  27. MikeH says:

    Mark,

    Since you are in Montana, I’m curious where you got you Borealis and Tundra from?

  28. Judy says:

    Re comment #82. While it’s great that Mark is sharing his knowledge of cutting propagation of Borealis and Tundra haskaps, I’d like to point out that these 2 cultivars originated from the University of Saskatchewan and their propagation is protected by license (i.e. you need to be licensed by the U of S to propagate their haskaps).

    Licensed propagators pay a royalty to the U of S for every haskap they propagate. This money, which can accumulate to substantial amounts for large scale propagation, is then used by researchers to continue to develop and release superior cultivars, which benefit the entire industry.

    Since the haskaps industry is so young and there is so much potential for growth (e.g. new cultivars), I think it is important for us to remember that developing new species and cultivars is costly. Royalties paid to a plant breeder can go a long way.

  29. Edward says:

    Mark (#82) is from the USA,
    so he would have to check if the UofS has any patents/trademarks there
    http://www.uspto.gov/
    http://www.plantpatent.com/

    (they do have breeder’s rights in Canada)

    as an aside, ‘Tundra’ and ‘Borealis’ are not ‘Haskaps’,
    they are honeyberries, edible blue honeysuckles etc.
    ‘Haskaps’ are a specific genetic strain from the island of Hokkaido,
    and neither ‘Borealis’ nor ‘Tundra’ are of this strain,
    nor contain any genetic material from them

  30. MikeH says:

    Naming is definitely a problem. You have Haskap (Borealis, Tundra, 9-15, 9-91, 9-92) from USask none of which have Japanese haskap genetic material and you have Haskap in the US from Dr. Maxine Thompson which contains Japanese haskap genetic material. And it’s about to get even more confusing as the Canadian product is starting to be sold in the US. And, if that’s not enough confusion, current USask development includes Japanese haskap genetic material.

    EBH Varieties – http://grou.ps/ediblebluehoneysuckle/215245

  31. edward says:

    thanks MikeH
    I understand the economic decision for trying to attach the name ‘haskap’ (haskappu)
    but it has always seemed disingenuous when people clamor for the breeding rights of these varieites,
    yet show little respect for the Russian (and other eastern european) breeders, and their coat-tails that the UofS is riding
    but I rarely see them or their Japanese counterparts mentioned in the fawning that some reserve for the UofS
    no doubt they have done some breeding for this part of the world, and should be fairly compensated

    what is good for the goose is good for the gander

    if i brought a breeding pair of ‘Bengal’ tigers,
    bred them for 5 generations (for optimum size)
    could I then name them ‘Siberian’ tigers
    sure, but they never would be ‘Siberian’ tigers,
    even if I introduced a ‘Bengal’ into the mix

    you are right though,
    there are new varieties coming along every season,
    and the waters are getting so murky,
    ‘haskap’ is simply the defacto name in North America for any edible blue honeysuckle
    that is why names are so very important
    relegate ‘Haskap’ for 100% genetically pure haskaps
    that is an easily determined lineage
    seems simple,
    keep the fantasy to a minimum, and the confusion will be minimal
    you develop a new variety (kamchatka cross with haskap) great,
    come up with a new and inspiring name, trademark it, and market it
    bob’s your uncle

  32. Karen says:

    Prairie Plant Systems in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is a licensed grower of Haskap plants as well -www. prairieplant.com

    They plants propagated by tissue culture: royalties are collected and forwarded to the University of Saskatchewan for their research purposes.

    We are able to ship Haskap plants to our American customers as of this year (2010).

    We have a good supply of Haskap plants for spring 2011 shipping and an order form can be found on our website.

  33. Karen says:

    just a little note to add to #88 post

    The plants are propagated by tissue culture – so the plants are true to name and virus and disease free.

  34. EBH says:

    Buyer beware if you buy from Prairie Plant Systems. This source has very poor packaging (See http://goo.gl/vS8xN) for retail shipping and plants arrive very dried and out of their pots with root dirt distributed all over the box. Customer service (See http://goo.gl/etHHL) in response to this problem was terrible. Even when shown pictures of how the shipment arrived and very basic alternative packaging, they were completely unresponsive.

    Things may have changed but it certainly was a bad experience.

  35. jeff kopp says:

    I am looking for a supplier for Haskap ( Honeyberries) and also Valiant grape vines.
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks , Jeff Kopp 701-880-0691 701-873-5692

  36. Alf Roberts says:

    Please could anyone advise me
    Do Honeyberries cross polinate with blueberries ?
    They are something of a mistery over hear in England
    Thank You

  37. Haskap Central is a licensed propogator of the U of S haskap and supplies the best pollenizer at this time = Berry Blue.

    Haskap Central was the 1st to offer stock grown in styroblocks vs the traditional 2 1/2″ pots. Please view http://www.beaverplastics.com to realize their benefits.

    Please view our product page for pricing and volume discounts.

    Demand continues to grow for these wonderful plants. Haskap Central is sold out for Spring 2011 delivery and are taking orders for Fall 2011 delivery.

    Order early to avoid disappointment.

  38. Georgia says:

    Response to #90:
    Prairie Plant Systems Inc. provides healthy, robust plants to its customers. Your package was obviously and seriously mishandled in transport. However, contrary to what is noted in your link, customer service was far from unresponsive – you were helped by PPS staff to make a claim with the shipper and even sent replacement plants.

    Prairie Plant Systems Inc. is a reputable company which offers a high quality product. Contact them for more information on plant quality and shipping procedures.

  39. edward says:

    straight from Bob Bors circa April 2007:

    “Bors believes Haskup should be reserved for either those varieties that come from Japan or those varieties that have substantial amount of Japanese material in their lineage…”
    “I’ve been calling my program ‘Haskup breeding’ because I fully appreciate the importance of the Japanese Haskup and will be using them extensively as parents”

    unfortunately the true haskaps are really suitable for the pacific northwest of north america, not the northern prairies
    so even though no/very little japanese gentic material is in the UofS varieties,
    not the extensive use, or substantial amount, first claimed, so he could take the name Haskap

    suppose someone from the USA started using the name pemmican, and selling his product as pemmican
    even though it was made with strawberries and pork
    how many in Canada would scream, how dare they steal the name our natives invented, and it is not even the same product
    it is close though, meat and berries,
    but the americans found it better in their climate to use different materials

    well that is exactly what happened here,
    Haskap is the name the indigenous Ainu of Japan invented
    give them back what is theirs, before someone calls upon the UN to set things right

  40. EBH says:

    Response to Prairie Plant Systems (Msg #97):

    1) PPS does provide healthy robust plants. I have no quarrel with that. All plants survived except one of the pollinators.

    2) As for the mishandling in transport, the pictures (http://goo.gl/JsJfQ) and email exchange (http://goo.gl/EXAKk) speak for themselves. If you ship plants loose in a large box with no packing material and the plants are not in plastic bags to keep them in their pots, they will arrive as mine did. Despite the evidence in the first set of pictures, you chose to ship the same way on the replacement plants with exactly the same results.

    3) PPS was responsive. First of all, you say that the boxes are not supposed to be turned upside down because they are clearly labelled. While that may be true, a prudent person would prepare the package assuming that they would be turned upside down. Then you said that you weren’t responsible since I had chosen the shipping method. I had no choice because your order system requires me to choose a shipping option. As for being helped by PPS staff to make a claim, you said I should contact Canada Post. That was the extent of your help. When I pointed out to you that “only the shipper/sender can file a claims request”, there was no further discussion about contacting Canada Post. Canada Post still says “You are the sender. If you are the receiver, please contact the sender to initiate the claim.” (http://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/personal/support/helpcentre/tracking/damaged_delivery.jsf)

    4) Yes, PPS did send replacement plants. And they were received in exactly the same condition. We opened the package before the courier left and his response was that Purolator had no responsibility for improperly packaged contents. Your last post to us said that the boxes were not improperly packaged .

    You go on to say in your emails that you are a wholesale business and that I should “consult [a] local nursery/greenhouse in the future when placing a small order of plants so that they can better accommodate your needs.”

    To be fair my experience was in the past so let’s bring things up to the present. Since you say that “Prairie Plant Systems Inc. is a reputable company which offers a high quality product. Contact them for more information on plant quality and shipping procedures.” let’s talk about shipping procedures.

    Do you still ship plants loose in a box or do you package them to prevent them from being damaged as a result of the box being turned upside down? What specifically do you do to protect plants in shipping?

  41. Sydni says:

    Does anyone know if you can cross pollinate Haskap with Blueberries?

  42. Prairie Plant Systems Inc. says:

    Re: #99:
    Unfortunately, an unhappy shipping experience has jaded your view of our company. It is regrettable that the courier companies have such difficulty transporting packages without damaging the contents, despite very clear labelling. We do appreciate feedback from our customers, including yours, regarding all aspects of our ordering process as it not only tells us what we are doing well but also the areas where we can improve. Historically, we have used a divider system in our packing process. We have tried other options with differing results and are currently researching new methods of packaging to protect the high quality plants that we provide. We cannot take responsibility for shipper error. Please see our guarantee for more information: http://www.prairieplant.com/price-order-info.html

    You may contact Prairie Plant Systems if you have any further questions or comments.

  43. EBH says:

    Unfortunately, an unhappy shipping experience has jaded your view of our company. It is regrettable that the courier companies have such difficulty transporting packages without damaging the contents, despite very clear labelling.

    Even today, you see nothing wrong with sending plant material loose in a box while depending on a label to protect them. Would you ship glassware loose in a box that was marked Glass – Fragile?

    Historically, we have used a divider system in our packing process.

    You must have started doing that last year because you certainly weren’t in 2009.

    Can you provide pictures of your current packing for retail customers?

  44. I just rec’d my Haskap and pollinator from Jung Seeds in Wisconsin, in great shape and budding, and after reviewing these comments I have a question. I need the pollinator but does it grow berries and are they edible? I only ordered one of each to try as my soil is not naturally acidic. How many Haskap can be taken care of with one pollinator? Hopefully I can prepare the soil and plant tomorrow.

    • Dave says:

      Kathy: Good news on all fronts! I’m not sure what variety your pollinator is, but regardless, it should produce edible fruit (though perhaps not as well as your other plants). Secondly, you don’t need acidic soil! That’s one major advantage over blueberries. And number three, one pollinator should be good for about six plants.

  45. EBH says:

    Hopefully the Jung pollinator is not either of the honeyberry varieties that they also sell – Blue Moon or Blue Velvet. Both are later blooming varieties suited to the Pacific Northwest. Because haskap flowers so early the pollinator should be early flowering as well – Berry Blue or Blue Belle.

  46. John says:

    to Leland #7

    I ordered some Borealus to plant this year. I am down here in Pennsylvania, USA. I would be very gratefull if you could send me a
    handfulof wild canadian seeds to try and compare to the Borealus .
    I can be contacted at [email protected]
    Thanks.

  47. For many years, Prairie Plant Systems has used the divider system when packing our plants. As our “retail-type” orders have increased, we have tried to protect those customers by trying other packaging options for our small boxes as those are the ones that generally cause problems because they are easier for the couriers to throw around. Currently, we are testing a new “wrap around” system to better keep plants in place. We care about our plants and our customers, and we strive to perform to the best of our ability to meet every customer’s needs.

    Please contact Prairie Plant Systems for more information on how to order haskap, dwarf sour cherry trees, and saskatoon berry trees for spring 2011 delivery!
    [img]http://www.albertahomegardening.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/IMG_0007.JPG[/img]
    [img]http://www.albertahomegardening.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/IMG_0013.JPG[/img]

  48. EBH says:

    For many years

    Perhaps for the plants that you are showing in the picture but not for haskap.
    [img]http://www.albertahomegardening.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/May 28, 2009.JPG[/img]

    Nonetheless, this is a great improvement. I will make changes at http://ediblebluehoneysuckle.wordpress.com/where-to-buy/
    You know, you could have made this all a great deal easier, if you’d simply posted these pictures at the beginning of this exchange instead of being evasive. One wonders if things have changed at PPS!!!!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *