The Pine Berry

 Have you ever heard of a Pine berry? This is a berry that we all should be growing, it’s beautiful and different.Pineberry Label

It’s unique looking delicious little berry holds a special reward for those who grow them.

This is my first year with them so I’ve only been able to harvest two little berries so far. They were very delicious and different. They actually did have a pineapple-y flavour! I’m hooked on them now.

The Pine Berry

It’s botanical name is “Fragaria ananassa”. It’s a hybrid of Fragaria chiloensis, that originated in South America, and Fragaria virginiana, which originated in North America.

It’s only been available in the US for a little while, since 2011. It’s still quite unknown and many people don’t know that they can easily have this very unique fruit right in their own backyard garden.

If you love strawberries then this unique berry just has to be part of your garden. These are a cultivar of red strawberries but they ripen to a pure white or sometimes to a light orange colour with beautiful red seeds.

The berries have a pineapple-y flavour that’s distinctly light and fruity, but they are fruity in a different way than the red strawberry. It’s hard to describe.

They also have a fragrance different than that of a strawberry.  As far as skill level goes, they have been just as easy to grow as regular strawberries.

Where have these delicious little things been all my life??

The pine berry is not actually that rare, it’s common to South America where all natural strawberries are white. They’re also common to the UK where the plants can be found in the nurseries more often than here in North America.

In the UK, they are sold with the names White Delight and White Soul, which are the cultivar Fragaria vesca.

Pineberry and Strawberry on Plant

The actual berry is very rarely seen for sale in the fruit markets because the plant is not able to produce at the levels needed for profitable commercial sales. The UK is where you’re most likely to see these available for purchase, not so much in North America.

The pine berry plant is disease resistant but low yielding and produces small berries in its normal state compared to the common red strawberry.  This leaves the pine berry just perfect for the home gardener and small scale grower. 

Try growing a bunch and if they don’t all get eaten right off of the plants try making a few strawberry shortcakes with these yummy little berries.

It’ll be worth effort needed to grow them and will definitely be a delicious reward. These plants will grow in the same environments as a normal strawberry plant would.

So planting them in the ground is fine or in containers works too. The options for vertical, hanging or stacking type containers are numerous and perfect for the pine berry as well. 

Pollination

Sadly, it’s not possible to have a vast field of all white Pine berries. They need a little planning and  consideration when it comes to creating the best environment for pollination. They need the help of some regular red strawberry plants to complete the pollination process correctly.

Important: When purchasing, you’ll need 1 red strawberry plant for every 4 pine berry plants.

They should be planted close to each other in the patch. If your berry “patch” is going to be planted in containers or in some type of vertical system it’s good enough to have them planted very nearby each other.

Appearance 

Pine Berry LeafThe pine berry plant looks exactly like a red strawberry plant. It’s the berries that look different when they form and begin to ripen. The immature berries start out looking quite different than the red strawberry.

The red ones have the familiar greenish tinge to the flesh and the seeds are visible on the surface of the young berry and are also coloured green.

The pine berry, while it’s producing fruit, is quite easy to distinguish from the red strawberry plant.

The new pine berry fruit has the same shape as the red strawberries but the colour of the flesh is much more on the white-ish side rather than the greenish colour of the immature red strawberry.

The most striking feature of the immature pine berry is the red seeds. The seeds are on the outside just like a red strawberry but the seeds are a bright red and at the beginning are deeply inset to the surface of the fruit.

As the fruit ripens the seeds become more flush with the outside of the fruit and it begins to look just like a white strawberry. If the berries are left to completely ripen they take on a distinct peachy colour and gain a very sweet pineapple-y flavour, different than that of the red strawberry. 

Predators

The Pine berry has the same predators as the regular

Two Pine Berries and a Strawberry

 strawberry. If you live in a rainy area like I do, the main predator for the pine berry are slugs and snails.

They will voraciously eat your strawberries and pine berries in the night and on wet days. You’ll wake up to your once perfect berries being demolished by the icky creatures right before you want to pick them.

Read more about how to deal with slugs and snails here.

Pine Berry Leaf with Weevil DamageThere is another pest that I’ve recently encountered that are really not a lot of fun to deal with, and that is Weevils. I’ve never had to deal with them before and they are quite a damaging nuisance.

So far they have nearly demolished my Sempervivum to death, but I saved them just in time with a location change for the plants.

They are also eating the leaves of the strawberries and pine berries. The weevils are so numerous on this property they have already damaged quite a few of the available leaves.

The remedies for weevils are limited but buying “Beneficial Nematodes” are quite effective and a natural solution to the problem without using chemicals. 

Runners

Pine Berry RunnersEarly in the summer the plants, both strawberry and pine berry will send out “runners”. The black arrows are pointing at the runners on these plants.

These runners are the plants way of spreading itself and creating new young plant stock.

These are great because the plant is just giving you perfectly formed new pine berry plants to eventually harvest from…for free!

Don’t cut these off these runners right away but rather leave them attached to the mother plant and allow them to root in a small pot or tray. Once they have set roots of their own you can cut them from the mother plant and then transplant them to a larger container or the garden itself.

I happened to have a tray of basil seeds sprouting right near my pine berry container, so I allowed the runners to take root in the soil pods that didn’t successfully sprout with basil.

Soon I’ll have many more pine berry plants for next season. Yummy!

Have you ever seen these berries before? Do you have them in your neighbourhood or country? Tell me your pine berry stories if you have them!


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