Domesticating wild and semi-wild species

Hi Peeps! It is me… Shane from Zeroinputagriculture. Glad to hear you have enjoyed my blogging. Happy to follow up with any questions here if you like. Hoping to be heavily involved with this wonderful group in the future.

Is anyone else working on hybridisation/new domestication of semi-edible/semi-wild species?


Hi, Shane! I love this question. I hope there are lots of people doing it.

Obviously there’s me, the lady in a desert who has gone bananas.

I know Joseph Lofthouse is working with several wild tomato species in order to breed promiscuous tomatoes. There are a number of other people in this community following his lead, which is very cool.

Who else is working on domesticating new edible species?

I’ll follow up to talk about the other species I am working on. Keep in mind there no precise boundary between cultivated and wild species.
Tulbaghia is a genus I just started working on (planted out my first batch of interspecies hybrid seedlings yesterday). It is a sister genus to Allium, sometimes called society garlic, with a genus of cross fertile species from South Africa which are sometimes used as a vegetable. Breeding it to produce a perennial/evergreen alternative to garlic chives/scallions.
Araucaria- Bunya nut trees grow locally here. I have collected remnant diversity and interplanted it with a south american sister species (parana pine) to produce a hybrid swarm for domestication.
Canavalia- Last summer I crossed the domesticated species (gladiata and ensiformis) with a semi-wild form (papuana). Aiming for a semi-wild climbing staple dried legume to grow throughout my hedge rows and orchard over support trees.
I started playing around with gathering sweet potato and semi-edible Ipomoea species, but the initial field trials were a bust. Likewise with tuberous Plectranthus. My weird cracking clay soil is difficult for most root crops, so I am focusing on Canna instead as a starchy tuber crop since they grow really easily here.

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Nothing I am doing quite fits this description, but I have designated beds for the wild mustards that grow here (Brassica, Barbarea, Lepedium) as well as wild lettuces and spinaches, such as catsear, fleabane, plantain, oxeye daisy, and evening primrose.

I’m not selecting in a structured way, but self-reseeding and large foliage are priorities reflected in the seeds and live plants that I locate in these areas.

I have some interest in non-white fleabane flowers and I’m working to make sure pink and purple color is present but I don’t really know enough about fleabane as a food yet to try to advance an aesthetic goal and a culinary one.

That’s all I Mostly Focus on. I’ve Studied wild edibles like a Mad Scientist, Any question you got about domesticating wild edibles, I Got you! I’m already starting topics of every wild edible I want to Breed a Landrace for. These especially have Potential for Landrace genetics!
Here’s a list

 ***Greens/Herbs Size Plants***

- Shiso/Beef Steak Plant (Perrila frutecens)
Excellent Tasting Mint with Spicy/Minty Flavour. All Crossable plants cuz they all da same species.
Note Last Picture is not mine

- Crow Garlic/Onion Grass (Allium vineale)
Excellent Tasting Garlic but also Onion Greens and Especially the little bulblets it makes. VERY DELICOUS Onion/Garlic Flavour. Ranges from mild heat but never hotter than garlic bulbs.
Crow Garlic (Allium vineale) will cross with Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) and with Garlic (Allium sativum). Because they all belong to the same subgenus Allium.

- Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matrionalis)
Not many Species but Lots of Diversity still. Delicious Mustard Flavour. Entire Plant is edible raw or cooked. Has Pink, White and Purple Flower Colour Varieties growing wild in U.S. I’m sure Europe has more Diverse Genetics as well.
Note These are not my Pictures
Dames Rocket 1 Selection_427 Dames Rocket 2 Selection_428 Dames Rocket 3 Selection_429 Dames Rocket 4 Selection_430

- American Wild Tomatillo/Ground Cherries (Physalis spp.)
All have Edible Ripe Fruits raw or cooked. Lots of different species of wild Physalis to choose from such as Physalis heterophylla, Physalis longifolia, Physalius pubescens, Physalis virginiana, and Chinese Lantern Plant (Physalis alkekengi).
These are all crossable with our domesticated Tomatillo’s (Physalis philidelphica) and Goldenberry’s (Physalis puruviana), but not so readily (Requires some interesing techinques but not Impossible)
Note These are not my Pictures

- Pennycress (Thlaspi spp.)
All parts are edible raw or cooked but is a hot Plant. Crossable are Road-side/Garlic Pennycress (Thlaspi alliaceum) and Field Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense). Potential for new Crop!

- Lambsquaters (Chenopodium album)
All above ground parts edible raw or cooked. Very Delicous Green, Whoops Spinach’s ass In my Humble Opinion. Will Cross with Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), Strawberry Spinach, (Chenopodium capitatum), and other Chenopodium spp.

- Amaranth (Amaranthus spp.)
So many Species too choose from, all are edible raw or cooked and Crossable. Edible same way as Lambsquaters or Domesticated Amaranth! Very Delicous Green and Nutritious seeds. So much Diversity, Purple, Yellow, Pink, Red, amranth with some getting Tree Size!
Note These Photos are not mine

- Garlic Mustard (Allaria petiolata)
Wild edible with Mustard Garlic Taste. But also has a Bitter after taste, especially when seeds start to form. Best Tasting part are the Young Shoots in Spring. Find Varieties that are Less Bitter and keep breeding them until you make Garlic Mustard Delcious without Bitterness! Has lots of Potential to become a New Superfood!

- Sweet Cicely (Osmoriza longistylis)
Wild Edible from Carrot Family that Taste like Pleasent Sweet Licorice! Lots of Species to Cross with and Potential to become a new Crop! Note The Last Picture is not mine

- Mallow (Malva spp.)
Very Delicious Mild Green with Mucilaginous Texture (Like Okra, cuz it’s related to Okra). Common Mallow (Malva neglecta) Grows as a Common Weed all over the world. This can Hybridize with Korean Vegetable Mallow (Malva verticillata) and many more. Just make sure they are all in the same subgenus.
Note The last Photo is not mine

- Chickweed (Stellaria spp.)
Very Delicious Mild Spring Green you can harvest all winter, even under the snow. Thus providing you Greens all winter long, even better in a Protected Hoophouse! Lots of Chickweed Species to choose from. Most Common one you will find in lawns is Common Chickweed (Stelaria media) which should be crossable with other Stelaria spp.

- American Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
Very Toxic Wild Edible Plant but Delicious Edible Fruit (When Ripe, Green Unripe fruit is Toxic, don’t eat leaves or root). Taste like Tropical Passion fruit x Guava Flavor. Will Hybridize with Red Himalayan Mayapple (Podophyllum hexandum). This has potential to become a New Commercial Crop!
Note The last Photo is not mine

***Trees/Shrubs/Vines Size Plants***

- American Persimmon (Diospyros virginia)
My Favorite Fruit Period! Unripe Fruits are Astringent AF! Only Enjoy Squishy, Overripe Persimmons (Like the ones on the left in 1st pic), Which are Sweet and Not Astringent. American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) Can Hybridize with Japanese Persimon (Diospyros kaki) and Date Plum (Diospyros lotus). This is because they all belong to the same Subgenus. Try Landracing Persimmons, Lots of FUN! Japanese Persimmons are much bigger than American Persimmon!

- Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
Big Tropical Fruit that Survives USDA Hardiness zone 5-8 (VERY COLD HARDY). Bannana x Guava x Pineapple type Flavor. Already lots of Cultivars and Breeding Projects to work with! Forming a landrace would be too easy! Especially when you can find these growing in the wild!
Note These 2 pics are not mine

Pawpaw Selection_425

- Basswood/Linden Tree (Tilia spp.)
Salad Tree, Yup this Wild Edible Tree Produces edible leaves In Spring that Taste Mild and have Mucilaginous Texture (Just like Mallow and Okra). Very useful to breed a Landrace from because it’s a Reliable Perennial Green that also makes Linden Flowers. (Useful to make Sweet Relaxing Tea).
So many Species of Linden to Cross with, just Experiment. You Probably have a Linden Tree near you!

- Silverberry/Goumi (Eleagnus spp.)
Delicious and Ridiculously Productive Berry Shrub. Lots of Hybridization work to be done with this genus. I’m Still Studying the Crossability of Silverberry (These are not releated to Olives despite the stupid common names) but Possible Species could be…
Autumn Olive (Eleagunus umbellata), Thorny Olive (Eleagnus pungens), Goumi (Eleagnus multiflora), Big Silverberry (Eleagunus latifolia), etc.
note Last photo is not mine

- American Passionfruit (Passiflora incarnata)
Most Beautiful Flower In my humble Opinion. Produced Delicious Passionfruits that are Hardy down to USDA Zone 7 (6 if Protected). These are found growing wild and will Cross with other Passionfruits. Research this a little because not all Passionfruits readily cross with each other.
Note These 2 Pics are not mine

- Hackberry (Celtis spp.)
This can become a new Nut Milk Commercial Crop. This wild Edible Fruit/Nut Taste like an M&M Candy but with a very Hard Seed/Nut. It is crackable with teeth, requires technique and your Dentist probably wouldn’t approve hehe. Reguardless lots of Hackberries to Cross with. Landrace/Breeding work could be done to Improve Yeild, Berry Size, Flavor, Less Hard Nut so it’s easily Crunchable, etc.

- Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)
These are found all over the Suburbs planted as Ornamental trees with no one but Squirels and Birds left to Benefit from the often Rotting Fruit. Yes I consider this a Wild Edible. Reguardless No one that I know of is Breeding Kousa Dogwood for fruit which is sad because the fruit has so much potential. It taste Sweet, very similar to Pawpaw in flavor. Needs Landrace/Breeding Improvement in Texture, Yields, and Size. The outer Skin is Bitter but the Inside Flesh is VERY DELICIOUS. If you live in the suburbs of U.S., you will most definitively will find this tree.


This raises the next question- how many species can one person domesticate in a lifetime? Luther Burbank led the way (but I am pretty sure he had a team of people working under him in the end).


haha More than you can think, My life will answer that question. If you take care of your health, you will live for a long time thus giving you more time to domesticate new crops. And if you work with a team, you can breed even more hense why I am on this website. Teamwork will ensure more Crops being Bred!

Also Landrace Gardening Speeds up Domestication!

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Physallis alkekengi fruits aren’t that edible. They are used in medicinal use. It’s not considered physallis anymore and it has it’s own genus alkekengi. Scientific name is alkekengi officinarum.

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That’s Very interesting… I saw the Wikipedia page say it was in the Alkekengi genus (The only Species in that genus, which is odd). However Itis still says it’s in the Physalis genus.

Look for yourself, this list all known & Verified Physalis species

I’m wondering why it’s no longer Physalis, Maybe Phologenically it’s a new subgenus in Physalis rather than a New genus. Hmm Regardless it still should be able to hybridize with the other Physalis species. We should put it to the test to see if it will truly cross to confirm if it truly is a different genus.

Also here’s the PFAF page saying Physalis alkekengi fruits are edible!

Reguardless, if it crosses, introducing a new Red color in Ground Cherries would be Super Awesome. I’ve never tried the fruits, do they taste good? or mostly bland?

Alkekengi was only moved out of the Physalis genus within the last few years, not all sources have kept up. It’s thought to be fairly distant from the Physalis genus now. I’m pretty sure that the most recent molecular analysis points to Calliphysalis carpenteri being the closest to alkekengi.

This is the paper that is generally accepted as authoritative upon which alkekengi was moved to its own genus:

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Genera get lumped and split all the time, both officially and unofficially. In the age of bioinformatics all of the old Linnaean levels of classification are basically relics of limited utility, constantly being reshuffled depending on which reporter gene(s) are used to construct the phylogenetic trees (which in turn have arbitrary locations for cutting apart species/genus/order etc). It is all an ungodly mess (especially if you dig deeper and find that using different reporter genes gives you wildly different tree structures, a hint of all sorts of messy hybridisation going back to the very beginning).
It raises the interesting question in my mind- how do new orders plants form in the first place? Could we create one ourselves? My suspicion is that it comes from very rare wide hybridisation events, followed up by major chromosomal rearrangements.


My suspicion is one person can probably make a lot of progress on domesticating quite a lot of different species, especially if a lot of them are local wild perennials, since those would be very amenable to STUN (sheer total utter neglect).

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Thank you for the Valuable info! I think we need to take Calliphysalis and Alkekengi and Cross them with other Physalis Species to finally settle the matter. (I also suspect that Alkekengi and Calliphysalis are the Products of a Cross within the Physalis species but maybe something else as well, Kind of how they might later be understood as Subgenera within the Physalis genus)

It’s what I’m going to try to do when I get access to Actual land and not just Guerrilla Gardening in the forest edges of my suburbs. Also gotta watch out for the HOA that Mowed down my squash plant. (It’s okay cuz I took a cutting off of it and rooted it in Water, just hope enough growing season days remain for it to at least contribute pollen to my maxima squash, which are crossable with Pepo if Maxima & Pepo Pollen is Mixed and Pollinated on a maxima female blossom).

Very interesting point you bring up, Scientist are always constantly Catching up with what Nature shows & proves with ease. Hmm I’m Wondering if the Very Rare Wide Hybridization events are being Facilitated right now in this very GoingToSeed Community? Are we doing the work of Scientist without all the papers & shit? I’m also thinking about how many ancient Humans actually Developed new Species that Scientist still haven’t discovered yet? Those Very Rare Wide Hybridization Events could’ve just been Ancient Humans doing Landrace Gardening? I mean how far does landrace Gardening go back?
We are all standing on the solders of Giants that came before us, It takes Humility to Truly Grasp that and be thankful for the work the Breeders that came before us have done. It was ancient humans who made Squash Not Toxic, who made Corn HUGE, Tomato’s HUGE, etc.

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