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Seeds of Trade

 
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Product: Rose-related fruits

Other products:  
   Rose-related fruits belong to the category Food crops

 SUMMARY
 WILD RELATIVES
 ORIGINS
 EARLY USES
 TRANSFER AND SPREAD
 AGRICULTURE
 MODERN CONTEXT
  POST HARVEST


Wild relatives

Many cultivated temperate fruits come from the family Rosaceae. The two main genera responsible for most fruits are Prunus and Rubus, but important genera such as Fragaria are also cultivated. Apples (Malus) and pears (Pyrus) are dealt with separately, as they are key economic fruits.

Prunus

The genus Prunus is large and complex, with about 200 species and several subgenera including Amygdalus (peach, almond), Cerasus (cherry), Laurocerasus (cherry laurel), Padus (bird cherry), Armeniaca (apricots) and Prunus (plum, apricot). Some authors split Prunus into separate genera, according to the morphology of their fruit - in this case the generic names are Persica (peach), Cerasus (cherry), Armeniaca (apricot) and Amygdalus (almond). Today, however, most botanists prefer to recognise a single, highly variable, genus.

  • Prunus domestica L. (European plum) probably originated in the area around the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. There is evidence that the sole progenitor of the European plum is the cherry plum, Prunus cerasifera Ehrh., a native of Russia, Central Asia, Persia, the Caucasus and the Balkans. The damson is sometimes distinguished as a separate species, Prunus insititia L.
  • Prunus spinosa L. (sloe) is the only wild Prunus species found in temperate Europe. It is distributed throughout Europe, the Near East and North Africa, and was once believed to be an ancestor of the European plum.
  • Prunus avium (L.) L. (sweet cherry) is one of three cherry species that produce the modern cultivars. Ancestral wild forms of the sweet cherry are found in temperate central Asia, Europe and North Africa. Prunus cerasus L. (sour cherry) is of hybrid origin between Prunus avium and Prunus fruticosa.
  • Prunus fruticosa Pall. (European dwarf or ground cherry) is a low, spreading bush found wild and cultivated as a true species; it hybridises readily with Prunus avium and Prunus cerasus. It is distributed in south Russia, Kazakhstan and Eastern and Central Europe.
  • Prunus persica (L.) Batsch (peach) originated in China, probably from wild species P. davidiana (Carrière) Franch., Prunus mira Koehne and Prunus ferganensis Kost. & Rieb. Wild species distributions are primarily in the mountainous regions of Tibet and west China, within the primary centre of peach diversity. Nectarines, or smooth-skinned peaches, have been called var. nectarina Maxim.
  • Prunus armeniaca L. (apricot) originated in China and Japan. Its scientific name reflects the fact that early botanists thought it came from Armenia. It is more closely related to plums than to peaches.
  • Prunus dulcis (Mill.) D.A. Webb (almond) is a hybrid of wild and weedy forms of Prunus, among them Prunus bucharica (Korsch.) Hand-Mazz., and is native to Central Asia. The almond is closely related to the peach.
Rubus

The genus Rubus is a largely temperate genus (with a few high-altitude tropical species). Over 400 species are distributed throughout the northern hemisphere, 300 of which are described solely in Europe. The genus Rubus is notorious for hybridisation, apomixis and for being incredibly difficult taxonomically. Species level taxonomy and the recognition of wild species are almost impossible. The most commercially significant species in this genus is Rubus idaeus, the European raspberry.

Three wild species of raspberry were all instrumental in the development of modern cultivated raspberries in Europe and North America:

  • Rubus idaeus L. (raspberry) is native to Europe, Russia and central Asia, where wild populations are still found.
  • Rubus occidentalis L. (American black raspberry) is found growing wild in central and eastern parts of North America. Rubus strigosus Michx. (American red raspberry) is native to southern Canada and north-central and north-eastern USA.
  • Rubus loganobaccus L.H. Bailey (loganberry) originated in Santa Cruz, California in 1881. It is believed to be a hybrid of Rubus ursinus Cham. & Schltdl. (Pacific coast wild blackberry) and Rubus strigosus Michx.
  • Rubus fruticosus L. (blackberry) is a common copse and hedgerow plant in the UK and Western Europe, but cultivated widely in USA and New Zealand.
Fragaria

Strawberries belong to the genus Fragaria. There are several wild species native to the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, one of the most widespread being the wood strawberry, Fragaria vesca L., which occurs in Europe, Asia and North America. Two strawberries found in Europe are the Polunitza strawberry, Fragaria viridis Duchesne, and the musk strawberry, Fragaria moschata Duchesne. The modern cultivated strawberry, Fragaria ananassa Duchesne, is a hybrid between two American species, Fragaria virginiana Duchesne and Fragaria chiloensis Duchesne.