*@ 1989 @ Elderberry - Black Beauty @ Developed by plant breeders Ken Tobutt and Jacqui Prevette at the Horticulture Development Council's East Malling Research Station in England. The breeding program was commissioned by the British nursery stock industry to develop an elderberry with dark-purple foliage. They worked on this effort for 12 years before releasing the selection called Gerda. This is a patented variety that is marketed under the tradename Black Beauty. The very dark, almost black foliage that does not fade in summer, and may even get darker as the season progresses. It has lightly pink tinged flowers that are lemon-scented, a first for elderberry. Other cultivars of S. nigra have an indifferent scent or none at all. The flowers are edible and are used for beverages. The immature fruit is green purple in color. The mature berries are both red and black. The fruit of course is also edible after cooking.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has these notes on the development of Gerda [1]. Gerda originated from an initial cross pollination made by the breeders between the variety 'Fastigiata' and the variety 'Guincho Purple'. The progeny from this cross were then cross pollinated in June 1993. Seedlings progeny from the second cross were planted in February 1994. The new Sambucus variety was selected by the breeder as a single plant within a population of progeny resulting from this cross in a controlled environment in July 1997. Asexual reproduction of 'Gerda' has been conducted using softwood cuttings since 1997. @ end

*@ 1898 @ Viburnum - Manchurian @ The Oikos Nursery catalog says of Viburnum burejaeticum "This is one of our favorite viburnums both for its edible fruit and its flower display. Fragrant 4-inch clusters of white flowers followed by red fruit that turn black when fully ripe. Tastes a lot like raisins. Not a lot of pulp but has a nice sweet blend of prune. Very productive in the fruit department. Drought tolerant. Height and spread to 8 ft. depending on the location." Another description says of the fruit "a hint of licorice from the few he got to sample." A Russian report hints at chocolate flavors when the berries are fermented [1] "Sweet infusion ... Letniy vecher (Summer Evening) – based on Viburnum burejaeticum - has a pleasant chocolate taste due to the alcoholized fruit drink."

A rare chinese species named after the Bureia mountains in China. Synonym Viburnum burejanum. Grows to 15' with lantana-like leaves, only finer textured. Leaves are shinier and more narrow than V. lantana. Young shoots are covered with a dense down which they loose the following year, revealing an almost white bark. Fertile white flowers in May producing fruit that progress from red to blue-black. Red-yellow fall color. @ end

*@ 1886 @ Purple Chokeberry - Ecos Strain @ Aronia x prunifolia is a hybrid deciduous shrub that is called purple chokeberry (or purple-fruited chokeberry) in recognition of its purple berries. It is considered to be a natural hybrid between Aronia melanocarpa and Aronia arbutifolia. It typically grows slowly to 8-12’ tall. It tends to sucker somewhat like amelanchiers (serviceberries). Clusters (corymbs) of 5-petaled, white (sometimes tinged pink) flowers (1/2” across) appear in spring. Flowers are followed by abundant purple fruits (1/3” diameter) which appear in dense clusters along the branches. Fruits ripen in late summer and persist throughout fall and well into winter. Obovate to elliptic, dark green leaves (to 3” long) are grayish-green and hairy beneath. Foliage turns wine red in autumn. Common name of chokeberry is in reference to the tart and bitter berries which are technically edible but so astringent as to cause choking in those who try. This hybrid was originally named Aronia prunifolia with a range of Newfoundland to Ontario south to Virginia and Indiana.

From the Oikos catalog:
Wild Strain-Central Michigan Prolific-Dense Clusters of Small Fruit Edible Landscape
Vast acres of this plant grow in mid Michigan usually surrounded by holly, popular, blueberries and pin oak. Fruit is produced in dense clusters all along the branches. Has a fuller flavor than Nero. Can grow in dry soil and part shade. Reddish-purple fall color. Our Ecos strain was collected from a dense stand with full clusters of fruit. Plants produce when 2-3' tall. 6 ft. tall with a 4 ft. width at maturity. @ end

*@ 1866 @ Plum - Brooks @ Brooks Plum an open-pollinated seedling of unknown parentage. It originated in Homedale, Idaho, and was discovered by Bert and Glenn Brooks of the Lafayette Nursery Company of Lafayette, Oregon in 1935. It was introduced commercially in 1937, and received patent number 498 on December 30, 1941. It was found in July 1935 when the seedling tree was six years old. Buds from this tree were propagated at their nursery.

It is a very large, sweet, dark purple, freestone plum with firm and flavorful yellow flesh. Brooks is great for fresh eating, preserves, canning and drying. It was also the main variety in Oregon’s dried plum industry. Brooks is probably a seedling of the Itailan Prune plum, also known as Fellenberg Plum. It is larger and sweeter than Italian Prune, and ripens one week earlier.

Anthony Boutard gives some history on the Oregon prune industry:
“Col. Henry Dosch, of Hillsdale, Oregon, was a tireless proponent of the Oregon Fellenberg Prune. The late 1800s and early 1900s was the era of the great expositions and world fairs, and Dosch urged fellow prune growers to use these venues to promote the prune in the world. He felt confident that consumers would soon [see] the difference between “the evaporated Oregon prune and the sun-dried insipid California prunes.” Oregon prune growers never did bother to promote the fruit, selling them instead to the California fruit cooperatives, where stripped of their identity, they wound up as prune juice. The prune orchards of Oregon are pretty much a thing of the past.” @ end

*@ 1695 @ Olive - Arbequina Seedling @ A seedling of the Arbequina Olive. I made a special request for fresh olive pits from the national olive collection in Davis, California. It took close to a year to germinate the olive pit. Only one seedling was produced from about 10 pits. I selected Arbequina because it was one of the few olive varieties that survived a severe freeze in a region of Italy where most trees froze to the ground.

The name Arbequina comes from the village of Arbeca in the comarca of the Les Garrigues, where it was first introduced to Europe from Palestine in the seventeenth century by the Duke of Medinaceli. Unlike most varieties, Arbequina has a high germination percentage and that makes rootstocks. Although sold as a table olive, Arbequina olives have one of the highest concentrations of oil [20-22%] and are therefore mostly used for olive oil production. Harvesting is easy since the trees are typically low to the ground and allow for easy hand picking. Oils made from Arbequina are generally buttery, fruity, and very mild in flavor, being low in polyphenols. The combination of low polyphenol levels and high levels of polyunsaturated fat as compared with other olive cultivars means that it has relatively low stability and short shelf-life. I can only hope that my seedling is true to type. With global warming, I may have fresh olives in my landscape one of these days. @ end

*@ 1684 @ Date Plum - Female Seedling @ Also known as Caucasian Persimmon, and among the oldest plants in cultivation. Started from seed obtained from the arboretum in Seattle. The source tree is not longer in that collection. Fruit seen for the first time in 2012.

Known by the ancient Greeks as the fruit of the gods, the date plum is renowned for its sweet taste that resembles both plums and dates. Mentioned in Homer's epic poem the Odyssey, it was so tasty that those who ate it forgot about going home and wanted only to eat lotus fruit with the lotus-eaters.

The date plum fruit is yellow when immature and ripens to a purple-brown colour. It is a very small fruit, only 1-2cm, that contain lots of sugars, malic acid, and vitamins. They are used as fresh fruits, but usually dried. Drying and frost destroy their tartness. The fruit contains about 1.9% protein, 0.2% fat, 47.7% carbohydrate, 1% ash.

The tree is well known for its dark wood. Although the date plum has dark pink or even blackish bark, its wood is not as black or dense as true ebony. Its fine grain means that it polishes well and as a result is used extensively in musical instruments, especially as piano keys and also for making chess pieces.

Native to China and a range of countries that span the Himalayas and other parts of Asia Minor, Diospyros lotus was introduced to Britain in 1597, and introduced to Edmonds, WA in 1984 :-) @ end

*@ 1674 @ Birch - Virginia Round-leaf @ Virginia Round-Leaf Birch is a small, rare tree. It is similar to Sweet Birch. The edible twigs and the brown bark of the Round-Leaf Birch, like Sweet Birch, have the taste of wintergreen, which comes from methyl salicylate. A tea can be made from the twigs and bark.

One of the most endangered species of North American trees, the tree was discovered in 1914 by William Willard Ashe, a forester employed by the U.S. Forest Service. The tree was first described in 1918 as a variety of Betula lenta, and elevated to species status in 1945. After it was first discovered, the tree was not seen again and was thought to be extinct until 1975, when some individuals were located. Douglas Ogle, a biology instructor, looked for and found "Betula uber" near Cressy Creek, which was close to Dickey Creek. 18 adult trees and 23 saplings and seedlings were in a forest along the degraded banks of Cressy Creek in Smyth County, Virginia. A possible explanation for the absence of the tree from its alleged habitat is that Ashe reported that he found it at Dickey Creek, when it was, in fact, found near Cressy Creek.

In 1975, the National Arboretum acquired 3 of these trees and started to propagate them. In 1989 trees wer distributed to the private nurseries as a plan to help save the species. The status of the tree is now classified as critically endangered. @ end

*@ 1603 @ Oak - Chinquapin, seedling @ Chinquapin Oak (also Chinkapin Oak) acorns contain very little bitter tannin. They are sweet and palatable. Indeed, the nuts contained inside of the thin shell are among the sweetest of any oak, with an excellent taste even when eaten raw, providing an excellent source of food for both wildlife and people. The acorns are eaten by squirrels, mice, voles, chipmunks, deer, turkey, and other birds. I collected acorns under a huge tree in the local arboretum.

An interesting sidenote on the name. The tree's scientific name honors Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg (1753–1815), a Lutheran pastor and amateur botanist in Pennsylvania. In publishing the name Quercus mühlenbergii, German-American botanist George Engelmann mistakenly used an umlaut in spelling Muhlenberg's name, even though Pennsylvania-born Muhlenberg himself did not use an umlaut in his name. Under the modern rules of botanical nomenclature, umlauts are transliterated, with "ü" becoming "ue", hence Engelmann's Quercus mühlenbergii is now presented as Quercus muehlenbergii. In lack of evidence that Engelmann's use of the umlaut was an unintended error, and hence correctable, the muehlenbergii spelling is considered correct, although the more appropriate orthographic variant Quercus muhlenbergii is often seen. @ end

*@ 1547 @ Elderberry - Samyl @ Samyl Elderberry is a highly vigorous and productive variety from the same Danish breeding program of Samdal, Sampo and Samidan. This program is located at the Research Center for Horticulture in Arslev, Denmark, and are managed by K. Kaack. The goal of the program was to produce varieties well suited for juice production. The work is documented in the paper "New varieties of elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) in the journal Tidsskrift for Planteavl, 1989, Vol. 93, No. 1, pp. 59-65:

"Two experiments with 14 new elderberry cultivars were carried out. The standard cultivar used for comparison was Sambu. The plant characteristics were evaluated using an annual pruning in order to keep the plants as bushes with many strong and upright shoots. Fruit yield, optimal harvest time, umbel weight, fruit weight, % fruit in the umbels and juice yield by pressing were determined. The fruit quality was evaluated in terms of the content of anthocyanin, titratable acid, soluble dry matter, and the flavour score of sweet juice. On the basis of bush yield, fruit anthocyanin content, number of upright shoots and the flavour score, 4 cultivars were selected as commercially valuable and were named Samidan, Samdal, Sampo and Samyl." @ end

*@ 1547 @ Plum - Methley @ A chance seedling nurtured by Willoughby Methley of Balgowan in Natal, South Africa. A french name for it is Methley de Balgowan. Probably a natural cross of Myrobolan Plum (Prunus cerasifera) and Satsuma Plum (Prunus salicina).
From C. Fuller in Natal Agricultural Journal, vol 14, 1910, pp. 279-280:

From inquires it seems that some blood plums were sent to Mr. Methley from another farm from trees growing in juxtapostion to myrobalans. After this lot of fruit had been partaken of, the stones were thrown out. From one of these pits washed down toward the sluit by the weather it is assumed the orginal Methley grew. As no other adventitious plums came into being, it is rather interesting to speculate upon this one survival, which may, of course, have been the only cross-pollenized seed of the lot.

Methley is one of the few Japanese plums that is self-fruitful. It produces medium to large, reddish-purple fruit of fine quality that are good for fresh eating or jelly. It is an early bloomer and is a good pollinator for Shiro, Santa Rosa and other early blooming Japanese plums. It ripens just ahead of Shiro. In my garden it is ripe in July. @ end


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