Haskap, Blue Honeysuckle, (Lonicera caerulea)
The more I walk, work and live in the world of plants, the better able I am to see the value of scientific names. It seems like just about every plant out there has at least two common names. Sometimes folks can be talking about the same plant and not even realize it because they each have a different common name for it. That's one of the benefits of Latin. It's a dead language so nothing's going anywhere and it's common ground regardless the mother language of the gardener or scientist. So if I refer to a Lonicera caerulea, the person I'm communicating with will know exactly the plant I mean whether they are Italian or Chinese (providing, of course, they are familiar with the scientific nomenclature for the plant as there is only one scientific name for a plant).
How did I learn about the existence of this plant? Like much of my knowledge: from a friend who is smarter than I am. This morning I got an email from one of them, Susan Metz, who works with the folks here in the Garland Parks and Recreation Department and who has done extensive work over the years with Texas A&M. Susan and her husband have a farm outside of Garland. While working at Texas A&M AgriLife Susan was involved in obtaining a SARE grant using pigeon pea as a biological chisel improving soil compaction. It’s a very beautiful legume beneficial to bees as well . Susan obtained the seed from Dr. Phatak who worked with the crop at U of Georgia and about a month ago she donated five healthy plants to the Garland Community Garden. I planted them in our multicultural plot as these legumes are a dependable food source in developing countries all over the world--particularly in desert areas where little water is available.
Susan wrote to me this morning that for her next adventure she is going to try growing a Lonicera caerulea Honeyberry "Borealis" Antioxidant-rich berries.
Of course that juicy tidbit sent me to the Internet to learn more. Following is a summary of my now expanded information on this plant:
The Haskap plant produces a delicious fruit that can be hard to describe. Many people describe it as a mix between raspberry and blueberry, but in our opinion it is completely unique.
The haskap berry is quickly becoming recognized as the latest super food. Its antioxidant and other health benefits are well known in places like Japan, where the berry is considered a delicacy, and scientific study is confirming the benefits of haskap. A 2008 article in the Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, for example, highlights the role haskaps can play in preventing chronic conditions like cancer and diabetes.
Because they produce fruit early in the growing season and because of their exceptional winter hardiness, Haskaps make an excellent choice for orchard owners and small scale growers alike. Haskaps can survive winter temperatures as low as -45°C and their flowers can be exposed to -7°C temperatures with no damage to the fruit.
[From: http://www.ppsfruittrees.com/pages/haskaps - accessed May 29, 2016]
I definitely plan to obtain some plants for my own woodland garden in my front yard as well as some for the Garland Community Garden. I have tried to grow blueberries with little reward here in Garland. I guess it can be done if one is willing to continuously be adjusting the pH of the soil as blueberries prefer much more acid on their soil menu. Just a few miles east of here they grow well, but not here in our clay-ridden Blackland Prairie soil--which in my opinion needs to be amended with expanded shale regardless what you are planting.
There are many varieties to choose from as you can see from the link provided above.
I think I'll choose the Borealis, the Honey Bee and the Aurora varieties. Next year I'll add the Boreal Blizzard to the mix. I will order and plant this fall.