Somewhere around the year 1850, a sailor introduced the first tiny red strawberries from North America to Europe (known then as red scarlets). Around a century later, another European merchant returned home from South America with the first white strawberries.
It was also around that time, 1750, that the two strawberry species spontaneously crossed to create the mother of all modern strawberries: Fragaria Ananassa.
Her seeds came in two varieties: white and red.
The white berries came to be known as pineberries, and were female, while the male red berries became what we know today as strawberries.
Because the red strawberries are self-pollinating and produce higher yields, the quickly became the dominant commercial berry, while white pineberries almost wholly disappeared from existence.
However, within the last 20 years, pineberries have made a comeback, after Dutch breeder, Hans de Jongh created a patented species called “Natural Albino,” (through selective breeding, not genetic modification.)
These delicate berries feature pale, whitish pink skin with red seeds, almost a mirror opposite of the traditional red strawberries with yellow seeds.
While the history of the pineberry’s fascinating and all, the most critical question is how the berry tastes.
A pineberry’s flavor is a cross between red strawberries and pineapple.
The berry is also rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants. In fact, some say pineberries are more flavorful and nutritious than red strawberries.
Two decades after their reemergence, British grocery store chain Waitrose announced the berries are now back in popular demand.
Because of their smaller yields and shorter shelf life, you’ll have a tough time finding pineberries in U.S. grocery stores, aside from maybe a few specialty stores in cities like New York.
Fortunately, these tasty berries a very easy to grow!
Growing pineberries is very similar to growing regular strawberries, except they won’t grow on their own.
Pineberries require strawberries nearby to pollinate with them.
Interspersing pineberries with a large variety of strawberries ensures your pineberries will grow, as well as extend the season of your strawberries.
As for the environment, pineberries do very well in USDA hardiness zones 4-8, which expands throughout the United States, and can be grown in pots indoors to protect them from harsh weather.
They require good drainage and need to remain moist at all times.
Make sure to use a good quality soil mix intended for strawberries, or you can make your own with:
- 10 parts sterile potting soil
- 10 parts peat moss
- 8 parts perlite
- 4 parts compost
- 1 part sand
Since they are woodland plants, pineberries prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
You want to position your patch or pots where they will get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight or 8-10 of bright indirect light.
Space your plants 12 inches apart from one another to make enough room for runners.
Feed them with liquid fertilizer throughout the summer.
Harvest your berries when they get around and pale pink.
Here’s a video featuring a delicious pineberry smoothie recipe, YUM!