Sunday, April 8, 2012

What is Haskap ?

Ripe fresh Haskap berries.

     When we visited Far Eastern Russia we were enthralled with so many different types of trees, plants, and opportunities to grow things.  Of course, we wanted to bring everything back, but we needed to settle for plants to be brought to North America safely and legally to avoid the spread of disease and of thugs which would disrupt what grows here. (So one would have needed a Federal Import Permit )
              Haskap is a berry which can be found in Far Eastern Russia.  It tastes like a cross between a blueberry and a raspberry.   They are in fact, native to Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. I am told that the Japanese Haskap is slightly different than the bushes that grow in Russia.  Haskap belongs to the Lonicera caerulea L., family.  The berries grow on deciduous bushes and are also called "Blue honeysuckle".  Some people call them "honeyberries".  The Russians have developed a number of cultivars.   The bushes should grow to about six feet high and six feet wide.  The beauty of this plant is that it does really well in cold, or even frozen climates.  The bushes develop an attractive cream to yellow flower in March, and are said to be able to tolerate a 15 degree Farenheit freeze, and still produce berries.  These berries are well suited to being grown in much of Canada, and in the Williamette Valley of Oregon and colder regions of Idaho.  I think they should also be tried in New Jersey and in the Northeast.  Sadly,. I think that Virginia's climate may indeed be too warm for them to be terribly successful here, but I am willing to try.   These are also a good wetland plant, and so I will have to try to plant some in Nova Scotia.
              What can we do with Haskap ?  In Russia, they make a wonderful coleslaw with a sweeter light dressing and add a few Haskap berries to it.  We also can bake a haskap and apple pie, just as we might bake a rhubarb and strawberry pie or a blackberry and apple. Also in Russia, they make a sundae with vanilla ice cream and with haskap berries I would love to see a recipe for haskap preserves. It can also be dried, or be used to make wine.

Haskap on the vine  (Photo:  Dr. Bob Bors)

                      For people who are interested in preparedness, this may be a great berry to grow since it may be available at different times than other things that we habitually grow.  It gives us one more thing to grow, save, and use for harder times, and it's an EXCELLENT source of Vitamin C.  For many of us, it will be easier to grow than lime or lemon trees indoors.  I recently bought a Haskap Svetlana and a Haskap Borealis.  One is female and the other a pollenator.  We will plant them as soon as we amend the soil in a shady spot for them, and I will let you know how they do in sometimes very hot mountainous Virginia.  Friends from Tennessee say that haskap has been simply hanging on there, but not doing well.

More authoritative sources of Haskap information than mine:

Here are some Haskap recipes:

Places you can order Haskap by mail:


     (Listing courtesy of: )


          Bergeson Nursery The scoop on ‘Bergeson Nursery’ here.
United Kingdom:

Licensed propagator for European Union, Norway and Switzerland.  Now taking orders.

 I have also noticed seed companies in the US advertising it this year also.

    Happy Easter Everyone !


kymber said...

i have never heard of Haskap but i love any kind of berry! and hey, if it grows in Russia then it must be able to grow here!!! i am going to look into getting my hands on some - thanks for the info!

your friend,

JaneofVirginia said...

Kymber, I was thinking of you and Jam when I wrote the post. You have abundant water, and if blueberries grow where you are, haskap is very likely to grow well, even if you do not have a challenging winter. (Haskap does well and maybe even better in locations that do.) You might even become an organic haskap farm and a winery ! I can see it now, "Framboise Manor Winery".

Anonymous said...

For more information, see

Russ said...

We have been growing honeyberries (Blue belle and Berry blue) for about eight years now at our berry farm, they make a wonderful jam,jelly and syrup. When combined with saskatoon berries they are especially tasty.
You can check us out on our website

JaneofVirginia said...

Russ, Thanks so much for telling our readership about your farm. Both my haskap plants are still alive here in Virginia, but no berries just yet.