Honeyberry’s Origins

It is tough to determine the Honeyberry’s origins or Haskap’s that everyone will agree on. We have only started to look for it outside of Russia and Japan.

The map below shows that it is relatively widespread in the Northern hemisphere, divided into two camps  Lonicera caerulea (Western Europe, Siberia and Northern Asia) and Lonicera villosa (North America). However, we do know that the best tasting varieties come from Western Siberia to Northern Japan from the following families –

  • Lonicera kamtschatica Sevast Pojark (Honeyberries)
  • Lonicera Turczaninowii Pojark (Honeyberries)
  • Lonicera emphyllocalyx  (Haskap – Japan,  and the Kuril Islands)

Honeyberries harvested in the wild in western Russia, northern China and northern Japan over many centuries. Where it has been treasured and used in folk medicine for centuries. This blue member of the honeysuckle family (Lonicera)  not officially documented until 1755,  in ‘Description of the Land of Kamchatka’ by Russian explorer Stepan Krasheninnikov’s.

Lush berry shrubs, such as honeysuckle, bilberries and cranberries, dominate the tundra landscape. The Kamchatka honeysuckle and mountain ash decorate the foothills and valleys. Honeysuckle is a shrub, which lives 50 to 70 years. Its berries are large and have a delicious taste.

Agricultural research to develop this berry into a commercial crop began in the former Soviet Union in the 1950s with selections primarily from Lonicera caerulea,  kamtschatica, edulis, altaica and boczkarnikowaeIn the 1970s, a research programme was started in Hokkaido, Japan, to develop selections from their local subspecies, Lonicera emphyllocalyx.

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Why has it remained – ‘World’s tastiest secret?’

There are some 18th and 19th-century references to an “edible, early-ripening wild berry resembling a blueberry in Russian and Japanese texts. The historically closed societies of both these nations made publication of any information concerning this edible blue honeyberry tough to find.  One of the best side benefits of glasnost, which marked the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1986, was the introduction of the Russian-bred honeyberry to the world.

The original introduction to Honeyberries

We have enclosed the first article that first seriously introduced the crop or berry to North American growers back in 1996. Great strides have been made by North American-based plant growers like Maxine Thompson, Jim Gilbert, Dr Bob Bors and Lidia Delafield to improve the berries taste and yields. The fruits of this hard work have just started to produce some cracking Honeyberry or Haskap varieties. Please see these listed in our plant section or click the article below.
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Honeyberry’s Origins and Native Lands

Honeyberries harvested in the wild in western Russia, northern China and northern Japan over many centuries. Where it has been treasured and used in folk medicine for centuries. This blue member of the honeysuckle family (Lonicera)  not officially documented until 1755,  in ‘Description of the Land of Kamchatka’ by Russian explorer Stepan Krasheninnikov’s.

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Botanical species of genus Lonicera

In this section, we have invited Honeyberry expert and grower Lidia Stuart from Berries Unlimited to help us create a general framework that helps map out the differing Honeyberry regions and to understands the origins of many of today’s Honeyberry varieties.

She believes that the best cultivars will come from the following three key varieties

  • Lonicera kamtschatica Sevast Pojark (Honeyberries)
  • Lonicera Turczaninowii Pojark (Honeyberries)
  • Lonicera emphyllocalyx  (Haskap – Japan,  and the Kuril Islands)

We have taken the 1994 work of Russian researcher Maria Plekhanova, who attempted to re-categorize many of the existing genus classifications. Her work was not ratified by the Russian agricultural authorities but provides a good starting point in why some varieties are larger or smaller than others or sweeter or why some types are Honeyberry or Haskap.

Honeyberry – Tetraploid Lonicera contains 36 chromosomes

Tetraploid can give twice the amount of genetic material as diploid Lonicera, allowing the grower more opportunity for ‘breaks’ or more dramatic advances.

1. Lonicera caerulea – The original tetraploid classification given to the species found in the wild from Asia, and Northern America. Its numerous subspecies have interbred and have created many of today’s promising Honeyberry varieties.

2. Lonicera pallasii Ledeb (syn. L. caerulea subsp. pallasii Ledeb). – It grows in the forests of northern Russia, in the areas of Murmansk, Archangelsk, and Belogorsk, in the Urals, in lowlands of western and eastern Siberia – the Buriatskaia Republic and areas of Scandinavia.

Plant Notes: The berries are considered sour and bitter and are considered inedible by local inhabitants.

3. Lonicera altaica Pall (syn. L. caerulea subsp. altaica) – It grows in areas of Altai (a mountain range in Central Asia), where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together and are where the rivers the Irtysh and Ob have their headwaters. Also, it is found in the Sajan Mountains (a mountain range in southern Siberia, Russia) at about 3,500 feet above sea level.

Plant Notes: The berries are very bitter, and local inhabitants regard it as an important medicinal plant. It’s a source of frost resistance of varieties.

4. Lonicera kamtschatica Sevast. Pojark (syn. L. caerulea subsp. kamtschatica Sevast. Pojark) – Slowly growing shrub with fruits sweet as much as sour-sweet, without a bitter taste. It grows in Kamtchatka, Sakhalin and Magadan regions, in marginal tundras, on downhills and riversides.

5. Lonicera Turczaninowii Pojark (syn. L. caerulea subsp. turczaninowii Pojark) – Located in the areas of Primorsky Krai (capital Vladivostok). This maritime territory is situated between the Sea of Japan to the east and northeastern China to the west. Republic Yakutia or Sakha found in eastern Siberia and stretches to the Henrietta Islands in the far north and by the Laptev and Eastern Siberian Seas of the Arctic Ocean. The Chitinskaya Region found in south-east Siberia near the Chinese and Mongolian borders.

Plant Notes: The berries tend to have a thick skin.

Honeyberry origins

6. Lonicera caerulea subsp. venulosa Maxim – It grows in regions of Primorsky Krai (capital Vladivostok). This maritime territory is located between the Sea of Japan (East Sea) to the east and northeastern China (formerly Manchuria) to the west. And Khabarovsk (A region in Krai Provence near the Chinese border, at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri rivers).

Plant Notes: For varieties, it is a source of high growth, early and high fertility and sweet-sour fruits with a bitter taste.

Maria Plekhanova proposed to combine number 5 – Lonicera Turczaninowii Pojark. (syn. L. caerulea subsp. turczaninowii Pojark) And number 8 – Lonicera edulis Turcz. Ex Freyn. (syn. L. eludis subsp. Turcz. Ex Freyn) As one wild tetraploid variety – Lonicera caerulea subsp. venulosa Maxim. The majority of classifications still count number 5 and eight as separate families and do not list number 6.

7. Lonicera emphyllocalyx (syn. L. caerulea subsp. emphyllocalyx) – It grows in the Kuril Islands and Hokkaido, Japan. This archipelago found in Sakhalin province, far-eastern Russia. It extends for 750 miles from the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula (Russia) to the northeastern corner of Hokkaido island (Japan) and separates the Sea of Okhotsk from the Pacific Ocean.

Plant Notes: The common name for this variety of Lonicera is Haskap.

8. Lonicera edulis Turcz. Ex Freyn (syn. L. eludis subsp. Turcz. Ex Freyn) tetraploid in Khabarobvskii and Primorskii kraii.

9. Lonicera stenantha – This is found in Middle Asia and blooms late in the season.

10. Lonicera villosa  – This is native to northern North America. The fruit is edible but bitter in taste. Found as far south as Pennsylvania and far West as Wisconsin.

Plant Notes: The common name for this variety of Lonicera is Mountain Honeysuckle.

11. Lonicera cauriana Fern.

Honeyberry origins

Honeyberry – Diploid Lonicera contains 18 chromosomes

Most plants, in general, are diploid, meaning they have two complete sets of chromosomes. Diploid Lonicera has 18 chromosomes, one set of nine from the pod parent and one set of nine from the pollen parent

12. Lonicera edulis Turcz. Ex Freyn (syn. L. eludis subsp. Turcz. Ex Freyn) – Diploid species often have sweet and delicious berries. It grows in the fertile black-earth of the southeastern Siberia province of Amur, along the Amur River (near the Russian/Chinese border) and Hokkaido, Japan.

Plant Notes: The common name for this variety of Lonicera is Haskap.

13. Lonicera boczkarnikowae Plekh (syn. L. boczkarnikowae subsp. Plekh). This species found in the Southeastern part of Primorsky Krai (capital Vladivostok). This maritime territory is located between the Sea of Japan (East Sea) to the east and northeastern China (formerly Manchuria) to the west.

Plant Notes: The berries have a sweet flavoursome taste. Lonicera regeliana Boczkar. (syn. L. caerulea subsp. regeliana Boczkar) is sometimes referred to as Lonicera boczkarnikowae Plekh. (syn. L. boczkarnikowae subsp. Plekh.)

14. Lonicera iliensis Pojark (syn. L. iliensis subsp. Pojark)– Found in  Middle Asia – late season

15. Lonicera villosa – This is native to northern North America. The fruit is edible but bitter in taste. Found as far south as Pennsylvania and far West as Wisconsin.

Plant Notes: The common name for this variety of Lonicera is Mountain Honeysuckle.

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Honeyberry's origins

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LoveHoneyberry

Our commitment at LoveHoneyberry is to enable you, to quickly establish a profitable Honeyberry orchard, by eliminating many of the high start-up and ongoing errors associated with a new fruit.

We are very passionate about the opportunities that Honeyberries offers growers (in particular organic) and encourage you to see these initial Honeyberry plant ordering costs as only a fraction of the lifetime revenue potential from fresh or frozen berry sales or Honeyberry value added products. We can ship Honeyberry or Haskap in-vitro plantlets or potted plants to you in most regions in the world, where the plants can thrive.

Our commitment does not disappear once we have sold you plants. Our passion is to help you improve your orchard’s soil fertility to allow you to grow high yielding, nutrient dense Honeyberries with sweeter and deeper flavours, and longer shelf life. You can implement our nutrient strategies by including our core recommended products into your current programs.

Haskap Idea Honeyberry's origins

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