Enticing Interspecifics

    • Bare root season is here. Choose and plant your favorite fruit and shade trees now.
    • Spring flowers and vegetables can be started from seeds now on your window sill. Try pansies and snapdragons, broccoli, cabbage and lettuces.
    • Lilacs and wisteria have beautiful spring flowers. They come in a variety of colors and can be planted now from bare-root plants.
    • Tree collards are delicious winter vegetables. Set out plants now.

Enticing Interspecifics

Many of the most outstanding new fruit varieties that we carry have been developed by Zaiger’s Inc. Genetics of Modesto, California – “A Family Organized to Improve Fruit Worldwide”. For over 40 years, Floyd and Betty Zaiger have spearheaded a breeding program that has produced outstanding fruit varieties and intriguing crosses.

Some of these crosses, like Pluots® and Apriums®, have been around for decades and the fruit can be found in grocery stores each summer. But the Zaigers have continued developing new kinds of hybrids such as NectaPlum® (nectarine-plum), Peacotum® (peach/apricot/plum), and Pluerry™ (plum-cherry). These hybrids are known as interspecifics, meaning that they are crosses between two or more different species, like plum and apricot.

There is no genetic engineering involved in these hybrids. In fact, a century ago, Luther Burbank hybridized plums and apricots to create plumcots, although they never became commercially successful. Stone fruits – apricots, peaches, plums, and cherries – are in the same genus, Prunus, and are closely enough related that many combinations of species are possible, though they are not easy to create.

In the late 1980s, Zaiger crossed plumcots with plums and created Pluots. Almost half of the plum-like fruits grown in California now are interspecifics, like Pluots. He also crossed plumcots with apricots and came up with Apriums.

The first NectaPlum introduced was called Spice Zee. It is a white-fleshed, nectarine-peach-plum hybrid. Skin is dark maroon at fruit set, and turns pale pink when ripe. Fully ripe the fruit has a delicious flavor, and both nectarine and plum traits are easily detectable. It is a taste-test favorite for its meaty texture, wonderful spicy-sweet flavor and plummy aftertaste.

The next major breakthrough in interspecifics brought us the first peach-apricot-plum for home orchidists: Bella Gold Peacotum™, a beautiful, delicious and unique fruit. The tart, slightly-fuzzy skin gives way to mildly sweet amber flesh for a delightful eating experience. It is an early bloomer and does well where apricots grow.

Two years later, the first plum-cherry interspecific, Sweet Treat™ Pluerry, was introduced to the home market. Much larger than a cherry, Sweet Treat™ delivers its sweetness with a zing and it hangs well on the tree.

Candy Heart Pluerry™ has dark speckled-red skin and the amber-red flesh that is slightly tart and very sweet, with a wonderfully unique flavor. Until recently cherry-plums were just a name for small plums. Now we have true crosses that incorporate cherry flavor into what looks like a plum.

The newest Pluerry™, Sugar Twist, has red skin and yellow flesh, with the sugar-sweet taste of a ripe cherry and a twist of plum.

For a delicious new taste treat, choose one of the new interspecifics for your orchard.

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