Many of the plants we think are native, are actually foreign. We have to have foreign varieties?because this gives us a wider range of fruit and blooms?to choose from.
Even the fruits we think of as being British tend to rely on foreign genes. Markus Kobelt the managing director and founder of Lubera said: “The garden blackberry benefits from genes from East Coast America, which are included in the Navaho varieties, which we sell on our website. There are also varieties from the West Coast that have valuable qualities, so they are being included in Lubera?s ongoing breeding efforts.”
Although we have wild crab apples in the UK, and have been using apples for a long time, our garden apples have developed from wild varieties?in Kazakhstan, and were probably brought here by the Romans, or the Celts.
Garden roses are bred with genes from Asian roses from China and Japan, which makes yellow and orange flowers possible ? we didn?t have them in the Middle Ages! The modern garden rose is at least 50% an immigrant.
And whilst rhubarb has a long history in the UK, it?s real heritage starts in the Himalayas. ?It first left its homeland in Tibet or China to be traded as a medicinal product, via the Silk Road. Passed from hand to hand, the details got lost in a game of Chinese whispers, combined with a strong dose of commercial secretiveness.
So rhubarb was originally expensive in Europe, used medicinally by the Greeks and Romans. It wasn?t until the late 18th century that its culinary uses were explored by the West, with the first recorded recipe for sweet rhubarb tarts, and the plant was brought into cultivation in Britain via a strain from Siberia.?Once the modern edible rhubarb had developed, it became incredibly popular.
Only wild/alpine strawberries are native to the British Isles. They?ve been cultivated for a long time, but it wasn?t until two American strawberry species (Fragaria virginiana from North America, and Fragaria chiloensis from South America) came together on European soil that the modern hybrid garden strawberry developed. There?s some wild strawberries in some of Lubera?s everbearing varieties (Eternal Love, Fraisonette and Fraisibelle), but most garden strawberries are entirely foreign.
So there you have it, a wonderful fruity tale of adventure?and travel from the exotic to our back gardens here in the UK from Lubera.