[NAFEX] Edible Honeysuckle

Lon J. Rombough lonrom at hevanet.com
Thu May 20 22:49:50 EDT 2004

   A few days ago I mentioned a breeder of edible honeysuckle, but didn't
give any particulars.  Today I visited Dr. Maxine Thompson, the breeder in
question, and got a good look at her work.  She has accumulated what must be
the best collection of material in the world.  Literally.  She has material
from all over, and has been producing some amazing plants.  The species is a
breeder's dream because you can gather the seed in May, germinate it, and
have plants ready to set out in the fall.  The next spring they start
bearing.   Some begin to bear a second crop on the new growth, and a few of
her selections were continuing to bloom and set all along.  Growth habit
ranges from nearly prostrate, sprawling vine-like plants, to mounds, to
upright bushes.  
   The fruit is about the texture and juiciness of blueberries, but is tart.
The tartness isn't extreme, and anyone who likes tart apples could eat them
out of hand, though their best use would be in jams and things like pies.
The flavor ranges from rather neutral, to a few with some interesting
undertones, to some that are excruciatlingly bitter.  Dr. Thompson said she
had one selection that was actually sweet, but the fruit was already
   There are a lot more traits to cover about the fruit, but the real story
is Dr. Thompson herself.
   At 77, she is doing the majority of the work herself, using Oregon State
U. land and greenhouses space permitted by her status as professor emeritus.
However, she has to pay all expenses herself and has very little help.
Students don't seem to want to do any sort of work, even when paid.  At the
same time, even with a few small grants, she hasn't the means to give the
plots the kind of care they need.
   In short, her work needs support, and if ever there was a project for
NAFEX to take on, her work would be IT.
   I would be willing to coordinate an effort to raise funds for her, and
will kick in something myself.  She really needs physical help, too, in the
form of a good technician to handle the day to day work.  Contact me off

   One thing.  Please do NOT ask for plant material at this time.  She is
very sensitive about being sure of the quality of her selections before
releasing them.  The material being sold now is giving the plant a bad name
and she wants to be certain her plants are really GOOD before releasing

-Lon Rombough 

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