Himalayan Chocolate Berry
No, this is not a high elevation relative of cacao but rather a honeysuckle relative from the Himalaya that produces pendulous clusters of beautiful purple to brown berries that have a taste reminiscent of chocolate, burnt sugar or raisins depending on who you ask. We were first introduced to this plant on a perfect August day at the Bullock Brothers’ Permaculture Homestead and have been fond of it ever since. Plants are columnar with hollow stems and a texture that fits nicely with grasses, bamboos and other bold foliaged trees and shrubs. Berries are produced in late summer through fall or winter depending on first frost. Would probably make a wild tasting syrup, jam or something of the sort. Maybe mix them with quince? Or eat them with a blintz? These are just some hints…
Latin Name: Leycesteria formosa
Site and Soil: 1/2 day to full sun and fairly well-drained soil. They produce surprisingly well in a bit of shade.
Pollination Requirements: Self-fertile
Hardiness: Hardy to about 0° F and might sprout back from lower than that.
Bearing Age: 1-2 years after planting
Size at Maturity: 5-12 ft. in height by about 4 feet wide
Bloom Time: late summer
Ripening Time: August-November
Yield: 20+ lbs.
Pests & Diseases: None that we’ve seen
USDA Zone: 7