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.

234 Responses to Introduction to Haskap Berries (aka Honeyberries)

  1. My intentions in dealing with your concerns, EBH, were never to be “evasive” of the situation. Rather, I have been keeping my responses to your concerns as professional and simple as possible, so as to not clog up this comment section. I am happy to provide more details outside of this public forum, regarding this or any other concern, to you or anyone else interested. I apologize to other readers for not posting pictures earlier to help avoid this extended discussion.

  2. corey says:

    Questions for anyone regarding some basic husbandry issues with ‘haskap’.
    I recently purchased from a nursery in Japan plants labeled ‘haspkap’ – no cultivar is noted on the attached color label. No indication of a ‘pollinizer’ is mentioned on label, or by nursery. Will the plants be able to produce fruit without a companion pollinizer? At purchase time (May 3) small green fruit, and remnants of blossoms present on plants. Next important question is related to my area of Japan’s climate. The plant occurs naturally in Hokkaido which has a completely different climate from Tokyo. Very high humidity in summer, and clay soil in my area. Last point is ‘shiokaze’ or sea salt in wind. Citrus grows well in our area along with camellias with waxy leaves. Hydragea thrives, but mountain plants like oak leaf hydrangea brown out. Blueberries can thrive if soil is amended with lots of compost, and peat. To sum up, does anyone think that ‘haskap’ will thrive in my location?

  3. EBH says:

    Try contacting Dr. Maxine Thompson at the email address at the bottom of this article –

  4. Pipestone says:

    re #42: Bob Bors, how far apart do you plant your experimental seedlings? I just planted out 75 seedlings of my own yesterday. I guessed and stuck them at 3′ apart to save space in my berry patch.

  5. Kennedy, James C says:

    Does anyone have experience,that might be relevant to growing haskap in heavy clay in Virginia?

  6. GreenGrower says:

    Further to post 112: does anyone have or know of a chart that indicates compatability for polination.

    I have a Borealis and Tundra — will they cross polinate or do I need another variety?

  7. EBH says:

    Re #116, see

    I’m curious how you have Borealis and Tundra without a pollinator since they are usually sold with a pollinator. If you don’t mind, where did you get them?

  8. babka says:

    pollinator is what carries the pollen from one plant to another ie bees, wind etc.
    pollinizer is the plant that supplies the pollen

    how did a self-fertile plant become sterile without a pollinizer?
    they are still ‘lonicera caerulea’, are they not?
    why would you breed out this marvelous characteristic?

  9. Pipestone says:

    My favourite local nurseries seem to be carrying only Tundra and Borealis this year so I too am curious if the people who buy only these two will ever get any fruit. On the bright side, I’m seeing potted growing Haskaps for $15.00 each whereas in previous years the price was pretty consistently at $45.00.

  10. vetman says:

    On the bright side, I’m seeing potted growing Haskaps for $15.00 each whereas in previous years the price was pretty consistently at $45.00.

    Pipestone, Where are you finding them at that price?

    • John says:

      I bought mine at $5 a plant end of season at a President’s Choice garden centre. woodstock, on

      • A. Snow says:

        I bought 3 pots with two plants per pot in each; a pollinator and a female, for $20/ each this summer. I planted them 3′ apart. I hope they grow into a sort of loose, casual hedge along the side of my front yard. No fruit this year, but some new foliage growth. Not the prettiest shrub in the world.

  11. artdeme says:

    Does anyone have experience with Polar Night and Polar Jewell varieties? I bought them two to a pot this spring. They have berries that are just ripening (a handful on each plant) but they are quite tart. So far I am impressed with their hardiness. We had frost here(Edmonton) in early June and it did not hurt the plants.

  12. Mainefame says:

    i just got my haskap order from . 2 borealis 2 tundra and 2 berry blue to pollinate “they even sent an extra borealis” shipping took 9 days due to Canada post labor problems , but they were not only packed extremely well but also green and vibrant . also they were about 12-15 inches and well branched. if you want quality haskap they are the people to go to

  13. Mainefame says:

    by the way…they were plugs i ordered not 2nd year plants

  14. Betty Van Winkle says:

    I bought 4 hascap (2 polar, 2 jewel – 1 of these didn’t make it) and planted them 2 years ago. To date there hasn’t been a flower or even the hint of one. The bushes look healthy and green, are now about 2 feet tall, there are lots of bees and butterflies around. What should I be doing to get these to bloom and produce?

    • Dave says:

      Betty: That’s very strange. I would have expected them to have bloomed by now. Could you take a picture of your bushes for us? Perhaps there is another issue…

  15. Pipestone says:

    I found the cheap haskaps at Cannor Nurseries near the Devonian Botanic Gardens. Don’t know if they still have any at that price.

  16. Pamela says:

    I am wondering what type of soil the haskap needs to grow in. Also, what kind of soil amendments would be good.(fertilizer, lime etc). Are they like the blueberry which needs an acid soil? And finally, if you have a dry soil, is regular irrigation required?

    • Dave says:

      Pamela: From my understanding, haskap seems to be a very flexible plant. It has been grown quite well in soils with pH ranging from 5 to 8. So you shouldn’t need to amend your soil at all – though some well rotted maure or compost would be beneficial. As to irrigation, I guess it depends just how dry your soil is. They are generally pretty forgiving, but extreme wet or dry should be avoided.

  17. John says:

    Hi All

    Just received 10 trial plants.
    4 Burialis
    3 indigo treat
    3 indigo Gem

    Will these pollinate?

  18. EBH says:


    You need a pollinator. For this number of plants, two plants would be a good idea. USask recommends Berry Blue. Here’s some info on growing them –

    I’m curious as to who sold you these plants without a pollinator. Would you mind sharing that info?


    • Diane says:

      Hi, I work at a Zehrs store in Niagara Falls and we have the hascaps there. the ones we have are the borealis, indigo treat and the indigo gem. We too were wondering about a pollinator but were under the impression that by buying one each that would make them pollinate. On reading the label its says you need tundra for fruit set. None of were sure what that means. Are we missing a pollinator???? Thanks

      • Dave says:

        Diane: Haskap tend to pollinate poorly with varieties to closely related to each other. The most common pollinator variety is Berry Blue – I would recommend selling these with the other varieties you have.

        • EBH says:

          PrairieTech Propagation ( recommends Berry Smart Blue and Berry Smart Belle.

          Also, Honeybee

          The University of Saskatchewan has released a new pollinator called Honey Bee to pollinate Borealis, Tundra, and the Indigo (B, T, I) haskaps. It has several favourable traits:

          * It blooms at the same time as the cultivars it’s meant to pollinate
          It produces good fruit set in the producing cultivar i.e. pollination is successful

          * It is productive and vigorous, starts fruiting at an early age

          * Honeybee fruit is tarter than B, T, I but better tasting than most Russian pollinators

          * It holds onto its fruit firmly and fruit stays on the plant longer; most Russian haskaps drop their fruit when ripe but not Honey Bee

          * It has a high degree of powdery mildew resistance in test plots

          * Because if its large size (50% taller than Borealis) it can pollinate up to 8 plants

          * It could possibly be used as a guard row to prevent birds from feeding on the inner producing rows. Since Honey Bee fruit isn’t knocked off the plant as easily as other haskaps, perhaps it can keep birds away from the producing rows

          * It is not recommended for mechanical harvesting as its cylindrical shape doesn’t let it move well in equipment

          More info from USask at

  19. jeff says:

    i believe that they are calling Borealis and Tundra “true Haskaps” because the Japanese consumers find them to be of a high enough quality that they will buy them for the premium prices the actual Hascaps go for in Japan.

    Also, the pollinizers needed for the plants in question are available at
    it is a very easy to navigate website with good information. they sell Pollinizers which you need for every 5 plants. they produce a fruit, but it is not as large or flavourful as the berry bush.

    if there are no pollinators in your area, you have a serious problem,because without pollinators (insects) we have no crops – unless someone wants to go out with a Q-tip and start getting touchy feely with the flowers…

  20. john says:

    a Q tip will not be helpful. the problem is not the pollen traveling to the plants the problem is the pollen is not compatable.. the varieties are to closely related tundra (formally called 9-84) borealis the indigo series 9-15 9-91 9-92 are closely related…They all came from row 9 in the breeding trials at u of sask.They are no different than apples or alot of other fruit.this incompatability is not breed into the fruit as a earlier blogger stated it is simply natures way of keeping the gene pool varied by making it easier to mate with distant relatives..than it would be to have off sping with close relatives

  21. Lindsay says:

    How would Haskaps fare in containers? Specifically, what size of container and how well do you think they would over-winter? As well, are they self-fertile? One commenter mentioned that it was so, but from all the talk about pollinizers and pollenators, I get the feeling that they are not self-fertile.

    • Dave says:

      Lindsay: I’ve never tried containers for haskap – but it would sure be worth a try! From my understanding, they ARE self-fertile – but they don’t do it very well. Another pollinator would be best for sure! (Someone wiser may correct me if I’m wrong.)

  22. Anna Moore says:

    My husband is on a low copper diet and I was wondering what the copper level is for haskap berries.

  23. kansas princess says:

    Haskap IS self fertile, however without a compatible mate you will only harvest a handful of berries. With a proper pollinator your bush will be loaded. I know this from practical experience – one of my bushes died last fall. It was heaved by a mole and I didn’t catch it in time and have not since replaced it. The remaining plant did produce a couple of dozen berries on its own.

  24. Eric says:

    So I understand u need the berry blue or the Honey Bee haskap to pollinate Borealis, Tundra, and the Indigo I’m just wondering if it would be helpful for production to start up honey bees (the insect) to pollinate as well if I were thinking of doing haskap on a large scale ?
    Also which Varieties produce the sweeter berry? Or does it depend on the soil and climate ?

    • Dave says:

      Eric: Not too sure on the honey bees. I’m not the expert on commercial production, but I can’t imagine that it would hurt! As to the better tasting berry – Borealis is the sweeter. (And I imagine soil & climate would play a part in that too.)

    • Ronald Sibbald says:

      Since Haskap flowers are trumpet shaped the best bees are Bumble bees with their long tongue. Different types of bees require different flowers throughout the year. I grow many different types of small fruit, so I make sure that I have supply of native bees I grow a variety of perennials. Different types of bees require different flowers throughout the year.

  25. Eric says:

    And which honeysuckle/haskap is better for commercial berry picking machines ?

  26. Bob Johnston says:

    I have one Indigo Gem Haskap Honeyberry and one Borealis Haskap Honeyberry. Do I need a different plant for a pollinizer?

    If i were to buy four more plants which plant should i buy? which one is the pollinizer one orr does it matter ?

  27. kolin malley says:

    I want to grow these berris and want to learn more about them if u can help
    Thank You
    Kolin Malley

  28. EBH says:

    Indigo Gem and Borealis are related. They don’t pollinate each other. You need an unrelated variety such as Berry Blue or Honeybee.

    You will get fruit without a pollinator but nowhere near the quantity that you will get with a pollinator.

    • Janet says:

      Thanks, you answered the question I had. I work at an Ottawa Loblaws Garden Centre, and we sell Borealis, Indigo Gem, and Indigo Treat haskaps. So none pollinate each other, which is unfortunate!!

      • Sunny says:

        I bought mine two years ago at a Loblaws, and
        the sign said it didn’t need another plant, it was self pollinating. The first year it got white
        tiny flowers which I assumed were going to be the
        fruit but they fell off and only the plant gets
        bigger, but this year not even the flowers.
        What should I do now? not sure of the name I
        bought, and why advertise self pollination if not? Thanks!

        • Dave says:

          Sunny: It does take a few years for the plant to begin producing fruit – so don’t panic yet. Haskaps need a pollinator to get a good fruit set – I’m not sure why they would advertise self-pollination! To be safe, I would buy two more plants – I recommend ‘Aurora’ and ‘Borealis’.

  29. Kathy says:

    I have cinderella and borealis will those 2 pollinate well to produce a good crop?

  30. Johanne says:

    Can someone tell me if polar jewel will pollinate tundra? I have been searching everywhere for this plant and one nursery in town has them but those are the only varieties they have.

  31. Johanne says:

    I have also found a borealis

  32. chris says:

    I just bought 3 plants at the Super Store in Missauga at a clearance price of $1.00 each. They are, Borealis Haskap Honeyberry or so the tag claims. What cultivar do you recommend for pollination in order to maximize my yield potential?

  33. TJB says:

    The label on my honeyberry, variety Indigo Treat, also states :need Tundra for fruit set.
    From all the comments I still cannot figure out what that means. Do I need another plant of the Tundra variety next to this plant to get fruit?

  34. Carol Cromie says:

    In Colorado, with a drought and it seems a warmer winter…v. Blue Velvet, and Blue Moon…do these cultivars bloom earlier or later? .. Stark Bros 2013 Spring catalog sez they are pollinators for each other, any news on the quality of the berries? flavor etc.?

  35. Remco says:

    I planted some haskup two years ago. Last year, slugs had a HARD go at the plants. I was FAR to slow and ineffectual at dealing with the slugs. The plants grew but leafy growth was…unimpressive. And there was nothing NEAR a berry on the plant.
    Any recommendations on pruning haskups? Is it really just “Take out the dead!” basically?

    Also, I have friends living in Golden BC and I’d love to bring them a couple of these berry plants. Their garden soil is rife with ammendments and their compost pile will keep the soil well. Golden, apparently has a better growing year than Calgary, but I am curious if being up in the mountains and the shortened DIRECT sunlight on the plants may not make it the BEST place to grow them?

    • Dave says:

      Remco: Pruning haskap isn’t usually necessary, so yes, “Taking out the dead” is probably a good approach! As your bush grows and becomes dense, you may want to prune out the older, less productive branches. And certainly, as with any fruit, the more sunlight – the better. I don’t know exactly how much sunlight Golden gets, but if it were me, I’d try it anyway!

  36. anthea says:

    I have just bought 2 plants,Blue Hokkaido and Blue Pagoda, will they pollinate each other,(with the help of the bees)?

  37. Inga says:

    I cannot seem to get an answer as to why my Borealis (2yrs with us now) are not producing viable fruit. Blooms develop but don’t get past a teeny tiny lavender coloured stage…I was told they’re self-fertile initially, but now I’m being told that they not and then again that they are…what are they? I was told by a nursery owner on Saturday that they need a pollinator. He recommended Cinderalla Blue, does anyone know if they are compatible and if I will finally end up with a Haskap crop next year?! It’s a real shame as I haven’t gotten anything yet as the plants are beautiful and healthy (the Haskaps) and are now roughly 3ft:( My kids are very sad as they’ve been looking forward to some berries for 2yrs now. Thank you for your input.

    • RJ says:

      Yes you need a pollinator. Honeybee or Cinderella or Smart Berry Blue or Aurora will all pollinate your Borealis.
      Tundra, Indigo Gem, Indigo Yum, Indigo Treat are not good choices to pollinate Borealis.
      I hope that helps.

  38. joyce andersen says:

    we planted 10 plants 5 years ago, the bushes look wonderful, and this spring we had tons of flowers. but sadly only a few berries actually have formed and they dry up before they get ripe. sour as heck. Would never buy them again except they make a lovely green hedge, that cost too much. there are a few berries on nearly every bush. perhaps they flower too early in the spring, because the bees don’t even get out then.

  39. anna lyon says:

    I was just gifted two haskap bushes (it is now September)
    Can I plant them now or do I wait for spring. Any tips on
    planting? They are Borealis and Berry Blue.
    Don’t know anything about them except they are good.
    Thanks for any help.

  40. sheryl says:

    Live in northest iowa. wondered if this plant is invasive?

  41. Diane Zipay says:

    three years ago I purchased 2 Honeyberry plants from President’s Choice. One of them died and the other did not produce any fruit. The nursery did not indicate that a pollinator was required. Last year President’s Choice introduced a new plant that consisted of 2 types grafted together so pollination would occur. I planted this close to the original and sure enough have a good crop on both plants this year. Just yesterday I harvested some berries from the first plant and was somewhat surprised at how sour the berries are. Is this what one might normally expect from the fruit or am I missing something still?

    • Dave says:

      Diane: The flavour of the berries really do vary from one variety to another. Many of the earlier honeyberry varieties were quite sour, but there are some very nice haskaps coming out of the university of Saskatchewan recently. I’m not sure what varieties you would have coming from President’s Choice, but I would suspect your variety has something to do with it. To be sure, I would try to buy Borealis or Tundra or Indigo Gem. The other factor could be that they just weren’t ripe yet! Haskaps will look ripe on the outside about a week or so before they are actually ripe. Be sure the inside of the berry is purple – not green.

      • Diane Zipay says:

        Thank you kindly for your reply. I’m not sure what one of the plants is but the other is Borealis. Given that President’s Choice marketed them as “Honeyberries” I was quite surprised at the sourness. No worries, I will just make jam or pies with them. Happy Gardening!

  42. John says:

    I just purchased two honey berry plants about a month ago, I planted them in tree and shrub soil watering them and a little fertilizer they are in a sunny area with some shade also, the leaves are not showing good green color and they are stagnate in growth but not getting worse. I see some tiny new sprouting emerging but they are stunted as far as growing and the leaves look bad but are not falling off. I can only think to dig them up check the roots and try to replant them. They are only about 18 inches tall with some small growth branches and leaves. Any seasoned experiences to give me advice?!

  43. Polinka says:

    I just bought the small bush of Honey Bee/Haskap blueberry 2 weeks ago. The nursery had a few variety & every, but this one said to need a pollinator. on the web info everywhere it mentions “was selected to be a pollinator for….” Does it mean that this bush can be happy itself, or it is still need the other fellow?

    • Dave says:

      Polinka: Did you mean a BerryBlue or Blue Belle haskap/honeyberry? All Haskaps need a second variety to pollinate with – these two are commonly chosen to be the pollinator for other varieties.

  44. Brian says:

    I have 15 plants so far. My oldest were planted in 2011, I got 5 more in 2013 and 6 more last year. Today is June 6, 2015 and 4 year olds (2 Borealis and 2 Polar Jewels are starting to bloom. the 5 from 2013 (2 Borealis, 1 Tundra, 1 Indigo Gem and a Cinderella as the pollinator) They are leafing out now. The 6 from 2014 (2 Borealis, 1 Tundra, 1 Indigo Gem, with a Honey Bee and a Svetlana for pollinators) They are breaking bud now and the Honey Bee has a flower. I don’t have any bumble bees yet. So I could have a problem with fruit set.

  45. Terry Anderson says:

    I just purchased 10 Aurora haskap seedlings. I see them listed as “pollinators” for other species, but do I need to purchase another species for these Aurora’s to bear fruit?

  46. Cheryl says:

    This year (late May) one of my borealis is displaying yellowing leaves. My concern is that it will spread to the other five plants. Is this a fertilizing problem? What solutions would be appropriate?

    Thanks for your help.

  47. Natalie Evans says:

    I planted two “Mr. Honeyberry” bushes. The label says it acts as a pollinator plant. My question is will the ones I planted produce fruit, or do I need to plant a “mrs, homeyberry” for that?

  48. Heidi Snyder says:

    The first year I had my honey berry plants, they fruited nicely. This year, the bushes grew in size, but I got no berries. Can you provide any helpfull tips on what they like to thrive and why they were seemingly “dormant” this year? Thanks!

    • Amanda Beaton says:

      Perhaps you need another variety to pollinate , I just bought some this year and was told I need two different types to produce berries next summer .

    • Winifred Serfontein says:

      I have 2 beautiful large honey berry bushes that flower abundantly in spring but only found out now that I need two different types for pollination. How do I find out which ones I have – is there any way if identifying the different types by looking at the plant so I can know which kind to get for pollination? Also , somewhere I read you need at least 5 bushes for success??

  49. pat marc says:

    I planted 4 bushes last year and they are yielding lots of berries already this spring, But I am disappointed in the taste as the tag stated sweeter than blueberries. They may look like elongated blueberries but are too tart to be compared to blueberries.

    • Skratazoid says:

      With blueberries, they get sweeter the longer they stay on the bush. I have a netted structHre on mine to keep away the birds, so I can wait a couple weeks after they turn blue to pick them. Maybe haskap get sweeter that way too. Just a guess.

    • Sam says:

      Something people should be aware of.
      Did you know that the berries are not fully ripe until 1-2 weeks after they turn purple? The honeyberry has a dual ovary and there are basically 2 fruits in each berry. One grower describes them as an inner and outer berry. The inside fruit does not fully ripen until 1-2 weeks AFTER the outer skin turns purple. The taste will be a mixture of sweet and sour or have a bitter taste if picked too early, even though the outer skin is purple and no longer changing color.?

      • Sam says:

        Found one of my sources. From the Arts Nursery website:
        Haskap Harvest

        Haskap flowers are borne early on stems and thus produce one of the earliest berry crops (even ahead of Strawberries). Berries are ready to be picked by mid to late June (depending on your area, can even be late May). These berries will look ripe 1-2 weeks before they are truly ready to be eaten. If the berries are green inside, they are not ripe; they should be a deep purple red inside when fully ripened.?

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