Picture from: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/wonderberry.htm

I noticed seeds for these wonderberries at http://www.rareseeds.com/ (Baker Heirloom) and bought some when I ordered lots of different kinds of seeds in 2007. In 2008 Spring, I thought I'd see what would happen so I put a couple of wonderberry seeds into peat pellets, and they both sprouted. I lost one two weeks later but the second transplanted ok.

It grew VERY slowly, even when I placed that planter outside near the strawberries. I almost forgot about them until late October 2008. I was double-checking the plants to see if any survived, and noticed the wonderberry plant leaves were NOT black from the frost like other ones.

As we relocated the planter to the family room, which was our grow room for the Winter, we noticed it was covered in dark blue, almost black, tiny berries. Of course, I popped one into my mouth, and one into Hubby's. Soooo sweet, and taste almost like a blueberry.

My on-line research was conflicting. Some said the berries are poisonous when eaten raw. Uh, I'm still alive, so it should have read "poisonous when eaten green". Some said the berries were tart when raw. Nuh uh. They were sweet to us. Read on....
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Here's info from: http://www.practicallyedible.com/edible.nsf/encyclopaedia!openframeset&frame=Right&Src=/edible.nsf/pages/wonderberries!opendocument

A Wonderberry bush grows up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall, with leaves about 6 inches (15 cm) long. It has berries just a bit larger than peas, that ripen from green to very dark blue. Wonderberries are somewhat sweet, and certainly far better tasting than Garden Huckleberries, with which the berries are often confused. That being said, and the name notwithstanding, the berries still don't taste of much of anything when eaten fresh out of hand, and are consequently best used in preserves and pies.

Wonderberries are poisonous when green.
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From: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/wonderberry.htm
Small, dark purple fruit closely resembling the highly poisonous nightshade. The ripe fruits don't taste like much, but when cooked with sugar, have a pleasant berry flavor that is usually used as a flavoring for pies and desserts.

Description: Very small shrub, usually growing to only 12-24". The wonderberry can fruit at just 3-4" high. Hardiness: XxxSunset Zones: All zones USDA: All zones

Growing Environment: The plants are exceedingly easy to grow and care is similar to the tomato, except that wonderberries tend to be less picky about temperature and water, and generally fruit much faster. Can be grown in full or part sun outdoors, or in a sunny window. Sow seeds directly in the ground during summer, or start inside. Germination is best when soil temperatures are above 70F. Keep the soil damp and repot as needed; wonderberry plants need little attention to flower and fruit. See also: garden huckleberry.

Propagation: By seed. May fruit in just 2-3 months.

Uses: Cooked and used as a flavoring for various desserts. The unripe (green) berries are poisonous.

Native Range: The wonderberry is a man-made cross between Solanum villosum and S. guineense, produced in the early 20th century by renowned plant breeder Luther Burbank. It closely resembles the wild garden huckleberry, and adding to the confusion, this common name is often used to describe the wonderberry as well. However, the flavor of the wonderberry is far superior to that of the garden huckleberry.
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From: http://rareseeds.com/seeds/Garden-Berries/WonderberryWonderberry (Solanum burbankii). 75 days.

Developed by Luther Burbank, tasty small blue-purple fruit, good fresh or cooked. Small plants produce good yields in about 75 days. A historic heirloom that is easy to grow and fun for kids.
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What our little family has discovered is these wonderberries are tiny, sweet, do well indoors with a grow-light, can do well outdoors with only 4 hours of sun (at least, in the Summer, for sure), and are probably perennial.

Our one little bush didn't produce enough to concern us with preserving (although we hear they make good jam), but it is good enough to produce fresh fruit during the Winter. We tried to keep it alive during the Winter but Tween overwatered it (as he did ALL of our indoor plants in the family room) so we're starting more in pots to move with us. Only needs a small pot - like a small bathroom trash can.

Wondering: does anyone know what nutrition these berries provide? Does anyone else have experience with Wonderberries?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These grow wild (every other year)in my back yard, and I eat them like I would a small grape tomato; that's what the acidity and sweetness together remind me of. I toss handfulls of them in salads, with pastas. I have never used them as a berry.

As a matter of fact, I was convinced I had some rare wild tomato growing in my yard. I guess I'm lucky it wasn't poisonous nightshade!