Have you ever heard of a Pine berry? This is a berry that we all should be growing, it’s beautiful and different. 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 pineappley 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 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 pinkish orange colour with beautiful red seeds.
The berries have a pineapple type 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. However, the do tend to rot more easily. Take care that they don’t lie directly on the soil for this reason. Make use of a hanging basket or hanging planter to avoid them rotting on the soil
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.They are gaining popularity quickly and each year I see them more and more often.
In the UK, they are sold with the names White Delight and White Soul, which are the cultivar Fragaria vesca.
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 pine berry plant is disease resistant but low yielding and produces smaller berries in its normal state compared to the 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.
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. 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.
The pine berry plant looks exactly like a red strawberry plant without fruit on it. The immature pineberries start out looking quite different than the red strawberry. The pine berry, while it’s producing fruit, is quite easy to distinguish from the red strawberry plant.
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 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 flavour, different than that of the red strawberry.
Slugs and Root Weevils
The Pine berry has the same predators as the regular 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.
There is another pest that I’ve recently encountered that are really not a lot of fun to deal with, and that is Root Weevils. I’ve never had to deal with them before and they are quite a damaging nuisance. I inherited them when I moved my garden to a new house.
So far they have nearly demolished my Sempervivum and damaged just about everything else.
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. I’ve had good success with hand picking the little devils.
If you have these in your garden, then I recommend hand picking and collecting every single one you see. Look under rocks and in moss etc, they’ll hide right in front of you in the containers. Go out at night with a flashlight and you’ll see way more of them since they hide in the daytime. They don’t make it easy mind you, when they’re touched they drop. Flat out, pull their legs in and drop to the ground like they are dead.
So, what I do is take a plastic water bottle or pop bottle and slowly put it right underneath them, by the time they notice you and drop, they drop straight into the bottle. Screw on the lid and that’s it. Discard the bottle of course. Eventually you’ll get a handle on the problem.
Early 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 plants.
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 the chosen container.
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!