What is Haskap?

What is Haskap?

  • Haskap is the Japanese name for Lonicera caerulea (Edible blue Honeysuckle).
  • It is the “branding name” being used in North America to differentiate the newer varieties of edible blue honeysuckle.
  • It is a circumpolar species native to northern boreal forests in Asia, Europe, and North America. It is mainly found in low lying wet areas or high in mountains.
  • Haskap is an ancient Japanese name of the Ainu people for the fruit meaning “berry of long life and good vision”.
  • The first introduction of the cultivated plant to Canada was at Beaver Lodge, AB in the 50s. The fruit was bitter and not pallitable.
  • It has been found in the wild in every province in Canada except for BC.
  • Haskap is a deciduous shrub growing 1-2 m tall.
  • The leaves are opposite, oval, 3-8 cm long and 1-3 cm broad, green, with a slightly waxy texture.
  • The flowers are yellowish-white, 12-16 mm long, with five equal lobes; they are produced in pairs on the shoots.
  • The fruit is an oblong blue berry about 1 cm diameter.
  • The flowers need an unrelated variety to pollinate.
  • Most people mistaken the fruit as part of the vaccinium family (Blueberries and cranberries), when in fact the fruit is closely related to tomatoes.
  • It comes from the Dipsacales order and is related to the Snowberry and Elderberry.

Varieties
Currently there are only 5 varieties being branded as Haskap in Canada. All of which have come from the U of S breeding program.

About HaskapTundra

  • Mature about 4-5 feet tall
  • Firmer skin than other varieties
  • Bleeds less from the scar
  • Average weight of 1.5gms

Borealis

  • Mature at about 4 feet tall
  • Sweeter and larger berry
  • Softer skin and bleeds slightly

Indigo Gem

  • Mature 5-6 feet
  • Large producer
  • Smaller tangy firm berry
  • Higher incidence of powdery mildew

Indigo Treat

  • Mature 4-5 feet
  • Similar to Tundra but smaller berry
  • Plant grows more upright

Indigo Yum

  • Was released by University of Saskatchewan but difficult to propagate.

There are some older russian varieties available. These were introduced to North America by Jim Gilbert in the 1990s. Some names include Berry Blue, Blue Bell, Svetlanna, Cinderella, Polar night, Polar Jewel. The fruit from these varieties are generally smaller and tarter but the plants are vigorous growers and high producers.
Berry Blue is a great non related variety to use as a pollinator.

Other pollinators released from propagators and researchers are the Northern Jewel and Honeybee.

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