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Plumcot anyone? Do you have any idea what this even is? But why the weird and unusual fruit? Perhaps you have tasted some of the many strange fruit crosses, or hybrid fuiits, that are now available and maybe you are tempted to plant your own unusual fruit tree or bush?There are many different crosses of fruits now and we have selected just 11 fruit trees and bushes for the experimental gardener. Winter is a great time to plant trees and shrubs, especially if you can source 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 cross-pollination of two plants from the same species or genus. Heres a round-up of the most commonly found alternative fruit crosses. You can decide for yourself whether the tree or bush is the right one for you.
A Pluot (pictured above) is three quarters plum and one quarter apricot. They are known as interspecific hybrids. The flavour of the fruit is dominated by the plum taste, but the texture in the mouth is more like an apricot. Pluots are loved for their flavour and the fruit has a higher concentration of natural sugar than the individual parent.
Aprisali® or Aprium
Aprium 'Aprisali' is a fruit tree that is self-fertile. It's an apricot-plum cross which has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Aprisali® produces sweet apricot-plum crossed fruits which are suitable for eating and cooking. The fruits are aromatic and taste mainly of apricot with just a hint of plum. The hybrid is three quarters apricot and one quarter plum. The self-fertile tree is fully hardy and relatively compact. It crops early in its life during July and has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Apriplums are a similar cross.
This was the original hybrid and it is half plum, half apricot. The plumcot is still a novelty because its unusual fruit tastes equally of plums and apricots. However, it has maintained popularity even though it has largely been usurped by the more flavourful crosses that have a higher percentage of either one or the other parent. The plumcot fruit does look pretty amazing with its red flesh and juicy texture, however.
Tangelo and Ugli fruit
Then we have Tangelo, which is an interesting fruit arising from a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. It has a juicy, tangy flavour that some people find irresistible.
The curiously named Ugli fruiti includes a mix of tangerine, grapefruit and orange. Some also include oranges in the same mix.
Then there are Lemonquat, which is a hybrid of lemon and kumquat. This tree produces a tangy fruit with an edible rind. Look out for orangequats and limequats too!
Doughnut peaches and nectarines
Everyone must have noticed the doughnut-shaped peaches which are so popular now. The flattened fruits are easy to hold, simple to eat and delicious too. They are loved by just about everyone, not least children who are captivated by the name 'doughnut' and love the taste too. There are severl different varieties including 'Saturn'.
Have you heard of Plango? This is a tropical fruit that comes from mango and plum parentage. The result of this hybrid cross is fruit with yellowy-orange edible skin; a sweet taste and a soft, juicy texture.
Cucamelons are intriguing little fruits that taste like cucumber with a hint of lime. You have probably seen these, even in standard supermarkets. They originally come from Mexico and are not a particularly modern hybrid. The plants are easy to grow and these unusual fruits have become popular here in the UK. Some call them doll or mouse watermelons!
There are new types of berries too. Boysenberries, for example, are a hybrid between blackberries, raspberries andloganberries. They are dark, bramble fruits which are absolutely delicious! They do have a slight drawback and this largely relates to their short fruiting season. The fruit doesnt tend to store very well and growers have to consider whether or not it deserves valuable space in the fruit garden. Many decide that it is well worth the short season! A member of the Rubus family, there are thornless varieties of this bush plant that produces sweet and succulent fruit on canes.
Next, we have the Tayberry (above). A juicy, sweet fruit which is considered to be one of the finest hybrids. It is a raspberry crossed with a blackberry. The elongated fruits have a juicy, sweet flavour. Berry eaters consider this to be one of the finest hybrid berries and some say that if you have room for just one hybrid berry, choose this one! The berry was named after the Scottish river Tay.
The Scottish-bred Tummelberry (above) has one of the longest picking seasons of any hybrid berry. People seem to love these deep red fruits! It's a fairly new type of Tayberry with the added bonus of a longer season. Rubus 'Tummelberry' produces large rounded fruits with a bright red colour and superb flavour. It's a heavy cropping fruiting bush with excellent winter hardiness.
The hybridisation process knows no bounds! But this does not need to be viewed with suspicion. After all, this method of crossing one parent with another has been performed by nature for many 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 - and there will be more to come. Enjoy!