Lonicera caerulea
Common Name: honeysuckle
Type: Fruit
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Native Range: Northeastern Europe, Pyrenees to Bulgaria and southwestern Czechoslovakia
Zone: 2 to 7
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: Yellowish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Deer, Black Walnut

Culture

Best grown in organically-rich, moist but well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Shrubs will take full sun in the northern parts of the growing area, but appreciate some afternoon shade in hotter southern parts of the growing area. Shredded bark mulch will help soils retain moisture. Consistent moisture is important in the early years of development. Shrubs will show some drought tolerance only after root systems are well-established. Shrubs are winter hardy to USDA Zones 2-6 or 2-7. South of Zone 7, plants often will not receive enough chilling hours in winter to grow well and produce abundant fruit. Shrubs are unisexual (not self fertile). Compatible plants should be planted in pairs or groups in order for pollination and fruit set to occur. Prune if needed immediately after harvest of fruits. Shrubs will not sucker in the landscape.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lonicera caerulea, commonly known by a variety of common names including blue honeysuckle, honeyberry, sweetberry honeysuckle, and haskap, is a circumpolar, multi-branched, deciduous shrub that is native to moist boreal forest areas, mostly in peaty soils, in northern temperate climates in Asia, Europe and North America.

This shrub in general is unlike many of its honeysuckle relatives in that it produces an edible, tasty, blueberry-like fruit. It typically grows to 4-6’ tall and as wide. Opposite, elliptic to ovate, glaucous green leaves (each to 2-3” long) have slightly wavy leaf margins. Pale yellowish-white flowers (to 5/8” long) bloom in late spring to early summer (April-June) in pairs along the shoots. Fruits ripen in early summer to deep blue with reddish-purple insides. Fruits are pruinose with an oval-teardrop to almost-globose shape.

Variability in growing characteristics results in part from the large geographic distribution of this shrub. Some current confusion exists regarding differentiation between varieties/subspecies. Some experts have identified as many as 9 different varieties, but other experts have instead divided the species into 4 different subspecies. Cultivars with improved characteristics are available in commerce.

Genus name honors Adam Lonitzer (1528-1586), German botanist, the author of an herbal (Kreuterbuch) many times reprinted between 1557 and 1783.

Specific epithet means dark blue in reference to fruit color.

Problems

No known serious insect or disease problems. Powdery mildew may occur.

Garden Uses

Fruit garden. Hedge. Uncommon in commerce. Berries may be eaten directly off the shrub or harvested for use in a variety of foods including pastries, jams, jellies, juices, wines, ice cream, and sauces.