Haskap Berry: Treasured Fruit for Centuries and Good For You!


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Categories: Health & Nutrition

We have tried to combine the three regional areas of Haskap or Honeyberry genetic varieties research (from Russia, Japan, and North America) to help categorize this botanical species and subspecies of genus Loincera.

We invited Honeyberry expert Lidia Stuart from Berries Unlimited to help us create a work in progress framework that shows the differing species and regions. This list will hopefully help the potential or existing grower to discover origins of their Haskap cultivars. The aim of this research is to help us discover the best tasting and productive varieties for commercial growers or home gardeners. In our opinion, there is no one best variety of Haskap or Honeyberry. There are many great ones and in time many more to come. We believe that the berry is best blended and the more varieties, the better to achieve a real ‘Wild Berry Taste.’

We have taken the 1994 work of Maria Plekhanova, who attempted to analyze and re-categorize many of the existing genius classifications. Her work was not accepted but provides an interesting ‘Left Field’ starting point. However, we are very glad of Lidia’s help to guide us through the many twists and roundabouts of trying to compile this list. We believe it gives us a fair and clearer picture of the genus origins and why some people say Honeyberry and others say Haskap or why some varieties are smaller than others or sweeter. 

15 Botanical species and subspecies of genus Lonicera

Tetraploid honeysuckles – Tetraploid Lonicera contain 36 chromosomes, essentially giving them twice the amount of genetic material as diploids. This gives the hybridizer more opportunity for ‘breaks’ or more dramatic advances than can be made with diploids.

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

2. Lonicera pallasii Ledeb (syn. L. caerulea subsp. pallasii Ledeb). – This grows in forests of northern Russia, in the areas of Murmansk, Archangelsk, and Belogorsk, in the Urals, in lowlands of western and eastern Siberia -Buriatskaia Republic and in 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 Kazajkhstan come together and are where the rivers 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 Sevat. Pojark.) – Slowly growing shrub with fruits sweet as much as sour-sweet, without a bitter taste. It grows in Kamtchatka, Sakhalin and in Magadan regions, in marginal tundras, on downhills and riversides. 

Plant notes: The common name for this Lonicera variety is Honeyberry. Early growth from some varieties can be slow. Berries are sweet to sour-sweet, without a bitter taste. It’s most often used as a starting material for the creation of many new varieties. It grows up to 5 to 6 feet (and in some cases 8 feet) and gives attractive yields. 

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

Plant notes: The berries tend to be all and have a thick skin.

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 remarkable bitter taste.

Please note: 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 8 as separate varieties and do not list number 6.

7. Lonicera emphyllocalyx (syn. L. caerulea subsp. emphyllocalyx) – It grows in Kuril Islands and Hokkaido, Japan. This archipelago is 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.-late season

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.  – USA and Canada (Ottawa)

11. Lonicera cauriana Fern.


Diploid honeysuckles – 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 is 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 flavorsome sweet taste.

Please Note: 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 – Canada (Alberta)

For those readers who would like to read further on this subject. We recommend you download the paper –Assessment of Genetic Variation among Elite and Wild Germplasm of Blue Honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea L.)