[NAFEX] Honey Berry coming in

Mauch1 at aol.com Mauch1 at aol.com
Wed May 19 12:04:06 EDT 2004

<Mostly because the existing varieties don't set much fruit ... they are usually so early there are no insects out to pollinate them. >
Last few years I've always gotten some fruit, but admittedly 
its not particularly productive for me here in zone 6b.  But 
I would think it would be good for the northern tier of 
states, and breeding might be able to increase productivity.
<There is a breeder in the U.S. working to improve them and some of the
selections are looking much more productive. ...I don't know how much the breeder is ready to
I hope you share information about this when the breeder is 
ready, as I'm interested.

<I'm not fond of the fruit being called "honeyberry" as it gives a false
impression of the fruit, which is not particularly sweet.  Edible
Honeysuckle is a more honest name.>
I agree that honeyberry is not particularly honest.  I only 
call it that as that's what most of the catalogs call it.  I 
think (if it is to become ever more than an extremely 
rare "edible" it needs a better name than "Edible Honeysuckle"

<I don't know anything about this edible honeysuckle except that it has a
reputation for being unproductive in the US.  >
It isn't particulary productive.  In the last few years I've 
always gotten some fruit.  It sets far more flowers but only 
a few go on to form fruit.  My comment stems more from - this 
could really be good with only a little more breeding work, 
and not many fruits come in in May.

<What variety do you grow? Where did you obtain your plants? >
I had three plants (two from Hidden Springs, and one from 
Forest Farm) One plant from Hidden Springs got mowed and then 
later hit with Roundup (RIP) [neither by me].  The ones from 
Hidden Springs were numbered 7 and 12, but I don't know which 
of the two survived.  It's this one that's fairly good (this 
fruit isn't bad, but it doesn't hold a candle to blueberries 
or raspberries, etc.  Its advantage is that it bears in May.)

The one from Hidden Springs has moderate growth.  The best I 
can come up with for a description of 'looks' is that the 
shrub looks sort of like a Forsythia in growth (many stems on 
a informal shrub)  the petioles are reddish.  The shrub from 
Hidden springs is quite restrained in growth and is still after 5 years only about 2-3 ft high.  The shrub from Forest 
Farm is basically the wild species.  The fruit is tart and unpalatable (tannic?)  and much more exuberant in growth.
<How many years from planting to first fruit?  What location
is it growing in?>
I got a tiny bit of fruit the 2nd or third year (and I still 
don't get much).  Initially my two remaining plants did not 
bloom together, but now the bloom seems to overlap 
regularly.  I planted it next to my driveway where it gets 
full sun (my 'plan' was to delay it breaking dormancy by 
keeping it covered in snow.  Given my climate, this doesn't 
work very well.)  The bushes are very close together.  

One thing I'm not sure about this shrub is the best way to 
prune it.  I noticed this spring, that the top of my 
ForestFarm shrub had some dieback in the center top.  

<Did you notice when it bloomed this year?> Not the exact 
date, I can tell you that it blooms generally in March, about 
the same time as Apricots and Cornellian Cherries.

I think this fruit is still a novelty, but I think it has 
potential that hasn't been developed.

Chris Mauchline
SE PA, zone 6
40° 5' N    75° 51'W
~650 ft elevation

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