04 Jan 2022

The 14 berry hybrids you cannot miss

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Also in the category of berries there are several hybrids that are gaining the interest of producers and consumers, including loganberry, boysenberry and various others.

But what is it all about? In botany, hybridisation is a process by which different organisms (plants or animals) are crossed with the aim of modifying certain traits, creating new ones or forming new varieties. This process has been known for a long time and, without making use of genetic engineering techniques, is at the basis of even the most modern varietal improvement processes.

In the fruit and vegetable department we usually find various hybrids, some very old and others really unexpected: did you know, for example, that the orange is a cross between mandarin and pomelo and that the Italia grape was invented in 1911 by the agronomist Alberto Pirovano, by crossing the Bicane and Moscato d'Amburgo vines? Or that the prized and famous Radicchio di Treviso comes from a series of crosses based on the humble wild chicory?

The strawberry, the queen of the berries category, is also a hybrid derived from crossing European and American varieties of wild strawberries.

More generally, hybridisation can result in:

  • hybrids between subspecies within a species, known as intraspecific hybrids such as the Royal Gala apple that comes from a cross between two apple varieties (Golden Delicious and Kidd's Orange) belonging to the same;
  • hybrids between species within the same genus, also known as crosses or interspecific hybrids; an example is pluot, a cross between plum and apricot (both in the genus Prunus);
  • hybrids between genera, also known as intergeneric hybrids such as the citrus Citrange (cross between Poncirus and orange) and Citrumelo (cross Poncirus and grapefruit);
  • Hybrids between families, extremely rare and only in the animal kingdom.

The aim of hybridisation (which can also take place spontaneously) is to make available new fruits with characteristics that are of interest to the grower (e.g. resistance to various diseases) or to the consumer (e.g. colour, taste, size, shelf life). In some cases, these characteristics are adequately emphasised by targeted marketing actions: a catchy name, an effective presentation often contribute decisively to the success of a new product.

Boysenberry - California raspberry and blackberry hybrids
The boysenberry is a hybrid obtained by crossing the raspberry with the California blackberry.

THE MAIN BERRY HYBRIDS

In the category of berries, in addition to the already mentioned case of the strawberry, a number of hybrids have become established in recent years, in particular:

Boysenberry (California blackberry x raspberry)

Loganberry (North American blackberry x raspberry)
Jostaberry (currant x gooseberry)
Pineberry (Fragaria chiloensis x Fragaria virginiana)
Tayberry (blackberry x raspberry)
Tummelberry (Rubus x Tayberry)
  • Vetchberry (blackberry x raspberry)
  • Sunberry (blackberry x raspberry)
  • Chuckleberry (redcurrant x gooseberry x jostaberry)
  • Youngberry (blackberry x raspberry x dewberry)
  • Olallieberry (blackberry x youngberry)
  • Marionberry (blackberry x blackberry)
  • Silvanberry (marionberry x boysenberry)
  • Framberry (strawberry x raspberry)

These fruits often have very interesting characteristics but do not have a wide distribution due to some defects that have limited their success such as poor shelf life, low productivity, susceptibility to climatic conditions.

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But while these factors often do not discourage enthusiasts and small producers who see in these hybrids a unique opportunity to diversify production and offer their customers and friends exclusive, delicious and still little-known berries.

Plants of many of these hybrids are available from Italian nurseries specialising in berries:

You might also be interested:

To go deeper:

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Photo: Geoffrey Whiteway

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