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I’m berry berry confused

May 22, 2015


Did I see an immature little strawberry today, growing in a hanging plant pot that was suspended from the rafter of a garbage enclosure-slash-gazebo?

Or did I see a pineberry, which looks like an albino strawberry (white fruit, red seeds) and tastes something like a pineapple?

I’ve never paid enough attention to the growing cycle the former and the latter is something I’ve never heard of before today so your guess is probably better than mine.

A frankenberry for jaded western tastebuds


Pineberries, Red strawberries (fragaria ananassa) crossed with characteristics of Chilean whites (Fragaria chiloensis).

The pineberry, for your information, came to select markets about five years ago. It appears to be a recreation, via cross-breeding, of an heirloom white Chilean strawberry.

Once upon a time, the simple telling goes — before about 200 or 300 years ago — there were white strawberries in South America and red strawberries in North America and never the twain did meet.

Until, according to Beekers Berries, the 19th century, when the South American white variety (Fragaria chiloensis subsp. chiloensis f. chiloensis) was brought to Europe, where it came into contact and spontaneously crossed with a North American red variety ( Fragaria virginiana subsp. virginiana).

All modern red strawberries apparently descend from that resulting variety: Fragaria x ananassa.

The way the University of British Columbia’s Botanical Garden tells the story of the Chilean coastal strawberry, it wasn’t quite that simple.

Beekers goes on to give credit to its Dutch growers for finding the last true “pineberries” (chiloensis f. chiloensis) in South America and then recreating them using “natural breeding techniques” to impart their unique characteristics onto a garden-variety red strawberry.

In 2010 the “new” pineberry showed up in U.K. supermarkets and the Guardian newspaper’s review showed admirable restraint in not coming right out and calling them shite (Britspeak for a marketing exercise, among other things). Click the images to enlarge them.

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