11 Odd Hybrid Fruits and Vegetables

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A UK-based horticulturist company has developed the TomTato—a plant that can produce both tomatoes and potatoes on the same stem. But the plant is not a true hybrid. There are plenty of other combination fruit-vegetables that do exist, though, and are available in stores now.

1. Pluot

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Plums and apricots both come from the same genus—Prunus—which made crossing the two fruits relatively easy for Floyd Zaiger, a Nebraskan biologist noted for his work in fruit genetics. The pluot now has a number of different varieties, and in the 13 years since it was created it has become relatively popular amongst fruit eaters.

2. Plumcot

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Zaiger wasn’t the first person to create a plum-apricot hybrid, though. Luther Burbank, a fruit producer and plant nursery owner, managed to cross the two fruits more than a century ago. The problem was that, back then, plant genetics were less advanced than they are today, and Burbank’s plumcots weren’t as hardy as they needed to be to endure the cross-country shipping that fresh produce endures before it reaches our tables and plates. Zaiger owes a debt of gratitude to Luther Burbank, however, for showing him the way.

3. Rangpur

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The fruit with the closest taste and consistency to a rangpur is a lime—and in fact its binomial name (the name assigned to species) is Citrus limonia. In China the rangpur, which is named after the Bangladeshi city in which it was first found, is called a Canton lemon. Though to many western palates and eyes it may be a fringe fruit, in Costa Rica rangpurs are often more popular than lemons and limes.

4. Tangelo

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Tangelos are a cross between tangerines and grapefruits, or pomelos. Created by a USDA biologist named Walter Swingle in 1911, the tangelo is super juicy and incredibly large when put next to an ordinary tangerine.  

5. Blood lime

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Blood oranges already exist, but other "bloody" citrus fruits do not. Eating a plain lime may be too sour for the ordinary person without also having a Synsepalum dulcificum miracle fruit to dull the bitterness. But blood limes are sweeter than ordinary ones, having incorporated the Ellendale Mandarin with a red finger lime.

6. Ugli fruit

The Ugli fruit is a trademarked name for what is—at least in part—a Jamaican tangelo. But Cabel Hall Citrus Company added another citrus fruit into the tangelo mix to make its variant. A Seville orange joins the grapefruit and tangerine hybrid, giving extra tang and flavor.

7. Tayberry

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The British summer season of blackberry and raspberry picking is a popular time, and in 1979 growers found a way to combine both fruits into the tayberry. The berry is difficult to pick industrially, however, so has never been incorporated into commercial farming crops.

8. Rabbage

The rabbage (or Brassicoraphanus) is a crossed cabbage and radish, and was developed successfully to self-propagate by a Soviet agronomist named Georgi Dmitrievich Karpechenko in the 1910s and '20s. It has fallen out of fashion, though, because the hybrid wasn't quite as well-integrated as consumers would like. 

9. Limequat

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A cross between a lime and a kumquat, the limequat takes out some of the harsh acidity of the citrus fruit and replaces it with a soft, sweet skin—though some still find the tang too much to take. Just like the tangelo, the limequat was hybridized by Walter Swingle.

10. Yuzu

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Mandarins and papedas met in this grapefruit-looking matrimony localized to East Asia. Yuzu fruits are used in Japanese and Korean cooking, particularly for ponzu sauce, but are less popular in the west. 

11. Jostaberry

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Anyone tasting a jostaberry would think it a cross between a gooseberry and a blackcurrant—for good reason. Both species are part of the jostaberry cultivar, Ribes x nidigrolaria. Though many people enjoy the jostaberry's taste, in the 36 years since its development no one has been able to successfully harvest the fruits on a commercial scale.

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October 11, 2013 - 12:11pm
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