By Jan Cashman
Haskap is a very hardy shrub with an edible blue berry. Other common names include honeyberry and yezberry. The shrub, and its berry, are also called blue honeysuckle because it is in the honeysuckle genus—Lonicera, species caerulea. It is native to northern hemisphere countries including Canada and Russia. The name Haskap comes from the native Ainu people of Hokkaido, Japan. The elongated blue fruit is bigger than a blueberry and edible.
Zach Miller, Phd who is doing research at the MSU Western Ag Research Center in Corvallis on growing small fruits, said haskaps are extremely cold hardy plants—to Zone 2. They grow on a shrub from 4 to 6 feet in height. They are easy to grow—tolerant of many soil types. They tolerate acidity or alkalinity in the soil and are relatively disease free. However, they could take up to four years to produce a crop. They can be susceptible to powdery mildew later in the summer. Haskaps need to be protected from birds and deer. Honeyberry shrubs can continue to produce fruit for up to 30 years.
A new trend in gardening is to plant a “Food Forest”. What this means is to set aside a portion of your yard to replicate nature’s way of growing forests by planting in layers– tall trees, medium height or shorter trees, then shrubs, and finally perennial plants and ground covers, planting mostly food producers and native plants. Haskaps or honeyberries are perfect for the taller shrub layer of food producers in your “food forest. “
Haskaps (honeyberries) top the charts in levels of antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and K. All these help boost one’s immune system, reduce inflammation and promote heart health. And they are a good source of fiber. Some varieties are sweet enough to eat fresh. Or add them to smoothies, yogurt, or desserts. Give honeyberries a try. Enjoy their amazing health benefits.