Some weird, all wonderful and fruity
Plumcot anyone? Here are 11 unusual fruit trees and bushes for the experimental gardener, chosen by guest blogger Caroline Knight of www.perfectplants.co.uk.
What’s with the weird and unusual fruit? Perhaps you have tasted some of the many strange fruit crosses that are now available. Are you tempted to plant your own unusual fruit tree or bush?
If so, February and March are great months in which to plant. You might even find bare root plants to keep your costs down.
These curiously addictive fruit crosses are generally created from hybrids rather than selective breeding through genetic engineering of DNA. In other words, the new fruits arise from the cross-pollination of two plants from the same species or genus.
The hybridisation doesn’t need to be viewed with suspicion – crossing one parent with another has been performed by nature for centuries.
Hybrids shouldn’t be confused with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) which have been created in a laboratory. What we are enjoying today can be considered the best in terms of flavour, shape, appearance and content. Enjoy!
Here’s a round-up of the most commonly found ‘alternative’ fruit crosses:
Pluots are interspecific hybrids resulting from a plum and apricot cross. The parentage is three-quarters plum and one-quarter apricot (Prunus domestica x prunus armeniaca). The flavour is dominated by the plum but the texture is more like an apricot.
Pluots are loved for their flavour and the fruit has a higher concentration of natural sugar than the parents. They are fully hardy and easy to grow, liking full sun, if possible.
Remember that the fruit doesn’t ripen readily after picking so leave it on the tree until it feels and smells ripe. There are several varieties, ripening early, mid and late season.
Aprisali® or Aprium
Prunus Aprium Aprisali fruit tree is a self-fertile apricot-plum cross which has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
The fruits are sweet, delicious and suitable for eating and cooking. They are aromatic, tasting mainly of apricot with a hint of plum – this hybrid is three-quarters apricot and one-quarter plum.
The tree is fully hardy, cropping in July and is relatively compact. Apriplums are a similar cross.
This was the original simple hybrid – half plum, half apricot and still a novelty because its fruit tastes equally of plums and apricots.
However, the fruits are not quite as sweet as the more elaborate crosses that have a higher percentage of one or other parent. The fruit looks beautiful, with red flesh and juicy texture.
Doughnut peaches and nectarines
The popularity of peach, Prunus persica Saturn, (or the nectarine Prunus Saucer) knows no bounds because the flattened fruits are so easy to hold and eat.
The self-fertile trees are hardy in the UK but select a sheltered, sunny spot for maximum protection and cropping potential. Fruits are generally ready to pick in mid-June.
Plango fruit comes from the Bouea macrophylla tree in Thailand and the unusual tropical fruit has mango and plum parentage.
The result is fruit with yellowy-orange edible skin, a sweet taste and a soft, juicy texture, which can be cooked or eaten raw. Mangos are difficult to eat, so the mango-plum makes life easy! This shrubby tree is not hardy in the UK – it requires full sun and life in a bright conservatory or heated greenhouse.
Tangelo and ugli fruit
Tangelos are a cross between tangerines and grapefruit, with a juicy, tangy flavour. The curiously named ugli fruit includes oranges in the same mix. The skins can be slightly misshapen but the flavour is slightly sweeter than the tangelo and very juicy.
These fruit trees are not hardy in the UK and should be treated like standard citrus trees – indoor care in a conservatory.
A lemon/kumquat hybrid, forming a tangy fruit with an edible rind. The fruits can be eaten raw or they make excellent marmalade.
Citrofortunella lemonquat should be treated as a standard citrus tree and it’s not hardy in the UK. Look out for orangequats and limequats too!
The reliable and hardy Boysenberry is a hybrid between blackberries, raspberries and loganberries, with delicious, sweet dark bramble fruits.
They do have a short season and it doesn’t store well but many think it’s worth it. A member of the Rubus family, there are thornless varieties of this bush plant that produces sweet and succulent fruit on canes.
The Tayberry is a juicy, sweet fruit, considered to be one of the finest hybrids. It is a raspberry crossed with a blackberry. Completely hardy in the UK, the berry was named after the Scottish river Tay.
A fairly new type of Tayberry, offering one of the longest picking seasons of any hybrid berry. Rubus ‘Tummelberry’ produces large rounded fruits with a bright red colour and superb flavour. Plant this bush in full sun or partial shade and expect it to grow up to 2.5m tall with a similar spread.
Many of these fruit trees and bushes are available to buy from www.perfectplants.co.uk at certain times of the year. Now available is Prunus Aprium Aprisali (£33.86 + p&p) and the Saturn peach, Prunus persica Saturn (£33.49 + p&p).