While doing graduate work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, I remember the Lonicera caerulea variety edulis. What I remember about it is eating the berries. I enjoyed the taste and ate at least a handful on several occasions before I realized it was a Lonicera. Since I did not think they were an edible genus, I stopped eating them. Since taste was not a problem, I assumed that they must be poisonous!
If my memory is correct, they looked like blueberries, were juicy and a little sweet. Though I did not realize it until last month’s article, the berries did stay on the shrub and were edible for several weeks.
It was in 1981 that I happened upon them. They were well established at that time. They were rounded in form, twiggy, and about 2 1/2 feet tall. I don’t remember the flowering to be as showy as the other ornamental honeysuckles, but the leaves did have a bluish cast to them.
I have been asked many times about the edibility of Lonicera fruit. I mention eating the fruit at the UAF Experiment Station without ill effect. But, also that I may have been lucky. Well, it seems that I may still be lucky!. To have had the chance to try the fruit, seed the shrub growing, and to have read last month’s informative article!
—Debbie Brown, Anchorage
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