Breeding pineapples and kiwis

I know basically nothing about bromeliads other than some poking around that I’ve done after this comment piqued my curiosity, but I’d be very interested to know if you actually had any particular bromeliads in mind when you said this, Shane?

My poking around hasn’t resulted in very much in the way of other bromeliads with edible fruit (though some other parts of certain others are apparently edible, which is probably worth noting). Wikipedia does mention one with berries which smell sweet, but taste sour.

And then mentions another which caught my attention, Greigia sphacelata, which apparently produces a sweet fruit called “chapones.”

One website I saw mentioned that the chapones supposedly combined flavors of kiwi and pineapple, which sounds absolutely amazing to me. The fruits are pretty small though, and I’ve got no idea how many a plant produces or how long it takes to start producing them. It looks like the leaves are used for basket making, which is at least somewhat fascinating to me as well… :thinking:

I’m seeing that one referred to as “hardy pineapple” in at least a few places online. And at least one place on a forum where a user claimed their (established and healthy looking) plant handled -8C and over a foot of snow without issues… which is way harder than we get here in the winter. But I wonder if the summers here would kill it. I don’t believe it gets this hot in the Andes.

Anyway, I mostly was meaning to ask if you (or Emily or anyone else) had any specific bromeliads in mind, or any other thoughts or insights on the idea…

If I end up going anywhere with the idea I guess I’ll need to make my own thread about it, but didn’t feel like I was quite there yet.

This paper explores the potential for intergeneric crosses in bromeliads.

A big highlight is that around 30% of the crosses attempted with pineapple were viable. That is where I would focus an edible bromeliad breeding program. Wide outcrossing based on a starting edible domesticated species with anything and everything is most likely to give a balance of interesting and useful results within one person’s lifetime.

Other wild edible fruiting genera include Bromelia, Puya (good cold tolerance), and Aechmea generally has juicy fruits and is a large and diverse genus.

Huh, that is really interesting.

Spanish moss x pineapple, here I come!

Lol, I should probably at least read that paper you mentioned first…

Aechmea species crossed with pineapple and Bromelia would be my suggested starting point. Aechmea are a large, diverse genus with fleshy berry fruits that are already edible (though usually unremarkable to eat). Spanish moss is on the other side of the family tree where the fruit are a dry capsule.

Yeah, that definitely sounds like it would make more sense.

I was partially joking, because of the handful of bromeliads I am somewhat aware of, Spanish moss seemed like the funniest one to try to cross with a pineapple. (Which does make it intrigue me, but not likely the most ideal starting point for a project like that.)

I’ll definitely have to keep this one simmering in my mind and see where it goes. I’m not sure I’m at a point where it makes sense to commit the time and energy to something like this, but it sounds like it would be really fascinating and an incredible learning opportunity.

Maybe it would make more sense for me to find some kind of interesting project to work on with kiwis or something first since they are a higher priority for me to start growing than pineapples… :thinking:

I wonder if you could cross the fuzzy kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa) with hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta)? Fuzzy kiwi has bigger fruits and is the one found in grocery stores, but it’s far less cold hardy. It’s supposed to only be hardy down to zone 8. Hardy kiwi is supposed to be hardy all the way down to zone 5.

There’s also the Arctic kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta), which is supposed to be hardy to a very impressive zone 3. It might be fun to play with if cold hardiness is really important to you. Or it might be a fun species for people in a much colder climate to play with.

SInce you live in zone 7, hardy kiwi ought to be a slam dunk all on its own, so if you want a really easy project, you could just collect a bunch of cultivars and plant seeds from them and see what new varieties you get.

One thing you may try to focus on is creating new varieties that are hermaphroditic and self-fertile. The only variety I know of like that is Issai, and I imagine there are a lot of gardeners who would like more options. Maybe if you grow Issai in between a bunch of other varieties and plant the Issai seeds, cool new cultivars will show up.

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Oh, interesting! It looks like yellow kiwi is another species: Actinidia chinensis. It’s supposed to be hardy to zone 7. That may work well for you, too, then!

Here’s an interesting discussion you may read through for ideas:

Huhhhh! Looks like the Ken’s Red cultivar of hardy kiwi is already a multispecies cross:

Although I get really suspicious when I see casual multispecies crosses popping up so easily. I start to suspect that they are not different species at all, just different subspecies. I mean, if things cross easily, why on Earth would they be called different species?

I’m starting to suspect that with domesticated plants, we are quick to call phenotypically distinct populations “varieties,” and with wild plants, we’re quick to call them “species.” Even though there’s really no justification for that, since they cross freely.

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Actually, I’m going to move this tangent into its own thread, because it’s a really interesting subject, and I think more people will want to find it. For anyone interested in where this discussion started, check out this thread.

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It’s because speciation might happen for many reasons that don’t allow natural crossing, for example geological obstactles or diffrent habits like time of flowering or breeding. Example from fish; bream and roach (and actually most cyprinoidei) freely cross, but natural hybrids are fairly rare because they have developed their own breeding times and places. If you compare bream and roach they don’t look alike so certainly they should be their own species. Plants often seem to have more moderate differences in looks that makes it easier to think they could be same species, but there must be quite a bit of differences to be classed as different species.

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Hehe, the title of this thread almost makes me think it’s supposed to be about breeding pineapples with kiwis, which sounds delightful, but unlikely.

So… Between the stuff mentioned here, all the stuff talked about in that thread about kiwis @UnicornEmily linked, and the things already going on in my head, I’ve started off down a trail of wondering much more seriously than I had been before about breeding my own kiwis (and potentially starting sooner rather than later).

I have read a few places about kiwis taking something like 3-5 years from seed to produce their first fruit, which would I guess mean that long between generations… So it would be a pretty long-term project, but could turn into something pretty cool eventually.

Obviously the ability to thrive in my area is a priority, but it would be great if it was able to be hardy enough for as many people to grow it as possible. I can breed towards that by crossing with known cold hardy varieties, but to actually select for it I would/will eventually need to get some help. Though I am sure if I posted on here offering kiwi seeds and requesting help growing them out in other regions I would have little trouble getting some assistance…

There are different colors and shades of both the flesh and skin to select for…

Of course flavor and texture.

Some varieties the hair can rub off, some there is more or less hair than others or it is a different texture, some you can eat the skin and others the skin doesn’t cling as strongly to the flesh…

I was browsing through the GRIN entries and a lot of them list everything down to pink hairs on the leaves or a specific part of the vine - vs brown hair, white hair, or no hair on another part… but all of those features are much lower priority. Though I did read somewhere that kiwi leaves (and vines???) were very nutritional as well, so perhaps less furry ones would be beneficial if that is true.

Speaking of stuff I was browsing through on GRIN, am I interpreting this correctly? Does this imply that the same plant specimen was tested (maybe 2 years in a row?) and the first time the hair adhered weakly, but the next time it adhered strongly?

I saw another entry which showed the same thing, but with skin adherence.

And this specimen (first and last line in the screenshot) started out with medium adherence and then came back as weak the second time… :thinking:

My daughter loves kiwis (she’s a big fan), so I would love to help you test out any new varieties you develop for drought tolerance. I can’t help with testing for cold tolerance because we’re in the same growing zone, but I’m pretty sure I have significantly more arid summers than you! :wink:

Hehe, yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s a safe bet. Even during our drought years that is probably still true…

One of my daughters was told by a gastroenterologist that if we wanted to try having her eat a kiwi everyday, there was some recent research to show that it might help with her gi issues.

We haven’t done it because keeping fresh kiwis stocked from the grocery store… well… I’m probably preaching to the choir on this site.

BUT if I could get a little orchard/vineyard going, that might be a whole different story. Especially since at least one website I was reading earlier said you can freeze them and they store for well over a year…

I’m finding out there’s quite a few more species of actinidia than I was aware of…

Obviously there’s deliciosa, and then like you said arguta, kolomikta, and chinensis… I guess Ken’s Red is a cross between the purpurea and melanandra (coincidentally, when I was looking at the GRIN database, this was the only species which seemed to have hermaphrodite flowers with an available sample).

A. Polygama is also known as silvervine and has a similar (but stronger?) effect on cats to catnip… also maybe repels mosquitos?

I haven’t found much useful info on a. callosa yet. I suspect both it and a. eriantha may fruit too late in the season to be (at least consistently) commercially viable.

And that’s just a fraction of the species which have at least at some point had an active entry in the GRIN database… let alone the potential varieties within each of those.

Representing genetics of all kinds of sizes, shapes, colors, amount and texture of hair (on fruit skin, leaves, vines, etc), brix, acidity, productivity, hardiness, flowering and fruiting times, and so on…

Don’t forget you can dehydrate them, too! My kids love dried fruit. You could also turn them into jam that you steam can (or water bath can), which will be shelf stable for many years later.

Ha ha, yeah, your drought years as likely wetter than our moist years. We had an extremely wet summer this year. One rainfall every month! And it was about a quarter inch of rain every time! Wow! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

It sounds like you have a lot of different species to play with. That sounds excellent. I would love to see what you start doing. (Steeples fingers.)

Ooh, that is a really great point.

I really like dried kiwi (and just about any dried fruit I have tried for that matter…)

And I bet kiwi jam would be pretty amazing.

If it got to the point where we were just overflowing with the stuff from years of harvesting from a bunch of different vines I was trying to breed, I bet the little country store across the way would let us sell it there if we wanted to do that. I’m pretty sure Oklahoma’s laws are pretty favorable towards cottage businesses like that at least up to a certain size. (Been a little while since I specifically looked into ones related to selling food processed in a home kitchen.)

But… I also have a feeling my family could go through a pretty shocking amount of fresh, frozen, and dried fruit, and homemade jam before the next harvest came around :sweat_smile:

I wonder if there would ever be a thing with kiwis where certain varieties taste better dried, some taste better in jam, some are best fresh, and others actually taste better after having been in storage for a while. I know they continue to ripen off the vine, like bananas; but beyond that effect, it seems like that last trait in particular may be harder to uncover.

Or if you could ever develop varieties which act like those self-drying tomato varieties… it feels unlikely to me, but honestly a self-drying tomato feels even more unrealistic in my brain :laughing:

You know, whenever I find a fruit that has an unappealing texture (for instance, a mealy apple) or the flavor is too mild, dehydration is the perfect solution.

I eat the fruit that’s perfect for eating fresh that way, and anything imperfect gets to be dried, which improves it. Works great!

Mmm, yellow kiwis can still cross with green ones?
I have started to grow seeds from store bought kiwis, not much luck yet.

Yeah, my understanding is that the green and yellow can breed together with the biggest issue possibly being making sure they bloom together (or saving pollen).