Lonicera caerulea

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Lonicera caerulea
Lonicera coerulea a3.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Genus: Lonicera
Species: L. caerulea
Binomial name
Lonicera caerulea
  • Caprifolium caeruleum (L.) Lam.
  • Euchylia caerulea (L.) Dulac
  • Isika coerulea (L.) Medik.
  • Xylosteon caeruleum (L.) Dum.Cours.

Lonicera caerulea, the honeyberry, blue-berried honeysuckle,[2] or sweetberry honeysuckle,[3] is a honeysuckle native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere.

It is a deciduous shrub growing to 1.5–2 m tall. The leaves are opposite, oval, 3–8 cm long and 1–3 cm broad, glaucous 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 edible, blue berry about 1 cm in diameter.


The classification within the species is not settled. One classification uses nine varieties:[4]

  • Lonicera caerulea var. altaica. Northern Asia.
  • Lonicera caerulea var. caerulea. Europe.
  • Lonicera caerulea var. cauriana. Western North America.
  • Lonicera caerulea var. dependens. Central Asia.
  • Lonicera caerulea var. edulis, synonym: L. edulis. Eastern Asia.
  • Lonicera caerulea var. emphyllocalyx (also known as Haskap). Eastern Asia.
  • Lonicera caerulea var. kamschatica. Northeastern Asia.
  • Lonicera caerulea var. pallasii. Northern Asia, northeastern Europe.
  • Lonicera caerulea var. villosa. Eastern North America.

Common names[edit]

Haskap berry diversity

Lonicera caerulea is known by several common names[5]

  • Haskap: an ancient Japanese name of the Ainu people (also spelled phonetically as Haskappu, Hascap, Hascup); used today in Japan and North America
  • Blue honeysuckle: descriptive translation from Russian origin
  • Honeyberry: common in North America
  • Swamp fly honeysuckle: coined by botanists who found it growing wild in swampy areas of Canada

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The species is circumpolar, primarily found in or near wetlands of boreal forests in heavy peat soils. However, it also can be found in high-calcium soils, in mountains, and along the northeast coasts of Asia and North America.

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Haskap products on retail display in a Japanese market

Haskap variety edulis has been used frequently in breeding efforts, but other varieties have been bred with it to increase productivity and flavor. In several haskap breeding programs, the variety emphyllocalyx has been the dominant one used.[5]

Plants of many haskap cultivars grow to be 1.5 to 2 meters tall and wide, can survive a large range of soil acidity, from 3.9-7.7 (optimum 5.5-6.5), requiring high organic matter, well drained soils, and plentiful sunlight for optimum productivity. Lonicera caerulea plants are more tolerant of wet conditions than most fruit species.[5][6] Harvest season is early summer, 2 weeks before strawberries for Russian type varieties, but Japanese types will ripen at a similar time to strawberries. Two compatible varieties are needed for cross pollination and fruit set. In North America, most Russian varieties are adapted to hardiness zones 1 to 4. The plants may take three or four years to produce an abundant harvest.[5] Average production on a good bush is about 7 lbs (3 kg).[5]

Blue-berried honeysuckle can be used in processed products, such as pastries, jams, juice, wine, ice cream, yogurt, sauces, and candies.[5] It can be used to make wine similar in color and flavor to red grape or cherry wine.[5][7]


As a blue pigmented fruit, Lonicera caerulea contains polyphenol compounds. Anthocyanins identified include cyanidin 3-glucoside, cyanidin 3-rutinoside, and peonidin 3-glucoside.[8] Other phytochemicals present are proanthocyanidins and organic acids, including a high content of citric acid.[9] Glucose and fructose together account for more than 95% of total sugars.[9]

Traditional medicine[edit]

Over centuries, Lonicera caerulea has been used in traditional medicine in East Asian countries for a variety of therapeutic applications.[10]


  1. ^ The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species, retrieved 18 May 2016 
  2. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  3. ^ "Lonicera caerulea". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  4. ^ USDA GRIN Taxonomy, retrieved 18 May 2016 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Bob Bors. "Growing Haskap in Canada" (PDF). University of Saskatchewan, Department of Plant Sciences. 
  6. ^ Janick, J.; Paull, R.E. (2008). The Encyclopedia of Fruit & Nuts. CABI. p. 232. ISBN 9780851996387. 
  7. ^ Reimer, Peter (2007). "Haskap wines at the University of Saskatchewan fruit program" (PDF). Retrieved 9 August 2016. 
  8. ^ Celli, G. B.; Khattab, R; Ghanem, A; Brooks, M. S. (2016). "Refractance Window™ drying of haskap berry--preliminary results on anthocyanin retention and physicochemical properties". Food Chemistry. 194: 218–21. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.08.012. PMID 26471547. 
  9. ^ a b Rupasinghe, H. P.; Boehm, M. M.; Sekhon-Loodu, S; Parmar, I; Bors, B; Jamieson, A. R. (2015). "Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Haskap Cultivars is Polyphenols-Dependent". Biomolecules. 5 (2): 1079–98. doi:10.3390/biom5021079. PMC 4496711free to read. PMID 26043379. 
  10. ^ Kaczmarska E, Gawronski J, Dyduch-Sieminska M, Najda A, Marecki W, Zebrowska J (2015). "Genetic diversity and chemical characterization of selected Polish and Russian cultivars and clones of blue honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea)". Turkish Journal of Agriculture and Forestry. 39: 394–402. doi:10.3906/tar-1404-149. 

External links[edit]