Does this Fruit Exist in Nature?

I was having a conversation earlier today, and I’m not sure how the topic came up, but I ended up searching about different kinds of fruit.  I was wondering which fruits grow naturally in the wild, and which are hybrids (or basically man made).  What I found was interesting.

Starting with citrus fruit, we look at the common types, oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits.  Guess what? Not one of them is naturally occurring. They’re all hybrids.  Oranges are a hybrid of the pomelo and mandarin.  Lemons are a hybrid of bitter orange and citron. Limes are a strange bunch, and consist of many kinds of hybrids. Grapefruits are hybrids of a kind of sweet orange, which is also a hybrid, and pomelo. Natural citrus fruits include the mandarin, pomelo, papeda, and citron. They’ve all been used to create many kinds of hybrids.

Three citron varieties.
Three citron varieties.

Other citrus include, shekwasha (a type of mandarin), many varieties of Japanese mandarins which can be pure or hybrid, kumquats (which are natural), tangerines (which may be a hybrid or a type of mandarin), clementines (which are mandarin hybrids), and yuzu (which are mandarin/papeda hybrids).

Left is yuzu (a hybrid of mandarin and papeda), right is a mandarin orange (not a hybrid).
Left is yuzu (a hybrid of mandarin and papeda), right is a mandarin orange (not a hybrid).

Of course, bananas that we see today are hybrids. They are infertile, so they need to be cultivated by humans.

The strawberries that we eat today are hybrids, and actually pretty recent.  Wild strawberries look a bit unusual.

Wild strawberry.
Wild strawberry.

Blueberries are native to North America and grow in the wild.

Raspberries are native to North America, Europe, and Asia, and grow in the wild.  But some are hybrids of a couple species.

Apples have many varieties, but the original comes from around central Asia.

Grapes originated in Georgia (the country), and wine has been produced just as long as grapes have been cultivated, about 8,000 years.

Peaches and nectarines are the same species, and they originated in China. They’re natural, too.

There’s a huge number of cherry varieties, and they’re actually different species. They grow in the wild.

Of course, there are many other kinds of fruit. But it seems that a lot of them are present in nature. But it seems that citrus fruits and bananas are the ones we don’t normally see the original, natural species.  But then, mandarin oranges are pretty popular, especially around Christmas.

And just to add a little controversy to this, hybridization of fruit is a kind of genetic modification. We’ve been modifying the genes of fruits and vegetables for millennia.  We just didn’t know it was genetic until the past century.

Know any interesting hybrids or natural fruit?


26 thoughts on “Does this Fruit Exist in Nature?”

  1. There is NOTHING humans eat that has not been modified from its original form. Nothing. Even hunter-gatherers, by the very act of harvesting some plants and not others, cause change in that species over time.

    Pecans hybridize in the wild, which is why it’s so hard to accurately identify the species of an individual tree.

    Wild strawberries… Ick. At least some species. Bland — and I mean NO flavor — or bitter. You’re better off eating wild rosehips, which taste like the strawberries you’re familiar with (go figure — they’re related).

    1. Rosehip makes good tea.

      I saw a picture of a citron cut in half. This one was mostly rind, very little flesh. But I’m sure they’re not all like that.

    2. You may be eating Indian mock berries instead of wild strawberries. They look very similar but the flowers are yellow instead of white. True wild strawberries are extremely sweet, but much harder to find in most parts of the US at least. They are also much smaller than the cultivated varieties.

  2. Neil Degrasse Tyson pointed out that we’ve been genetically modifying food for thousands of years. The only difference is that we now do it in the lab instead of the field. Interesting post. Bananas always confuse me. They don’t grow on trees, they grow on giant herbs.

          1. We just had a fresh local pineapple today in Hawai’i, where we are visiting our daughter. So delicious! If we had a place to do it, we could plant the top in soil and grow a pineapple plant, although it will fruit more quickly if you start with suckers or slips.

            1. I’d have no clue how to grow pineapples. I doubt they’d live in Canada, but they might do okay in Okinawa in Japan.

            2. I don’t think I would grow any pineapples, since I don’t actually like it 🙂 But it’s interesting. My uncle has grown bananas inside his house, and even has kiwis growing outside.

  3. We have wild strawberries growing in our yard. We can always tell when the farm-grown strawberries are ripening by the wild ones in the lawn.

    Another North American native fruit is the cranberry. Also, Concord grapes.

  4. Not a traditionally ‘fruity’ fruit, but avocados are interesting since it’s conjectured that they only still exist because of humans. Supposedly they co-evolved to be eaten whole by large herbivores, which would scour the pit in the digestive tract, allowing it to sprout once it was out. There are no herbivores of that size left (giant sloth, etc), and it takes a bit of work to propagate an avocado from the pit. Left on their own, they might have died out.

  5. I miss ‘Black raspberries,” and frankly, I also miss the older version of the red raspberries, both of which were grown by my grandmother. The person who bought her house, ripped them all up! I was shocked, as they were in the far back corner of her 1 acre yard, and were 50 years old. Red raspberries today taste nothing like the ones she grew.

  6. The picture in this of strawberries looks like a mockberry tbh. Think it may be mislabeled. Also I don’t think anyones claiming our current veggies are not modified but it’s a natural modification through selective breading, not gmo in the normal sense.

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