FruitGateway - Raspberry breeding and domestication

Raspberry breeding and domestication

Rubus is a member of the family Rosaceae and is one of the most diverse genera in the plant kingdom, comprising over 400 species (Bailey 1949) subdivided into 12 subgenera (Jennings 1988). Ploidy levels range from diploid to 14-ploid (Nybom 1985).

Members of the genus can be difficult to classify into distinct species for a number of reasons including hybridisation between species and apomixes (Robertson 1974). The domesticated subgenera contain the raspberries, blackberries, arctic fruits and flowering raspberries, all of which have been utilised in breeding programmes. The most important raspberries are the European red raspberry, R. idaeus L. subsp. idaeus, the North American red raspberry R. idaeus subsp. strigosus Michx and the black raspberry (R. occidentalis L.). Rubus subgenus Idaeobatus is distributed principally in Asia but also East and South Africa, Europe and North America. In contrast, subgenus Eubatus is mainly distributed in South America, Europe and North America (Jennings 1988). The members of subgenus Idaeobatus sp. are distinguished by the ability of their mature fruits to separate from the receptacle. The subgenus is particularly well represented in the northern hemisphere.

Centre of origin

The place of origin of raspberry has been postulated to be the Ide mountains of Turkey. Jennings (1988) and Roach (1985) have given extensive accounts of early domestication. Records were found in 4th century writings of Palladius, a Roman agriculturist, and seeds have been discovered at Roman forts in Britain; hence, the Romans probably spread cultivation throughout Europe. The British popularised and improved raspberries throughout the middle-ages, and exported the plants to New York (USA) by 1771.

Soft Fruit Breeding at the Institute

Raspberries have been bred at the Institute for over 40 years and the breeding programme has resulted in many successful cultivars. View details of the Institute Raspberry varieties.

New raspberry variety
Assessing a new breeding selection


Jennings DL (1988) Raspberries and blackberries: their breeding, diseases and growth. London: Academic Press, 230 pp.
Nybom H (1985) Chromosome numbers and reproduction in Rubus subgen. Malachobatus. Plant Systematic Evolution 152, 211-218.
Roach FA (1985) Cultivated fruits of Britain: their origin and history. Blackwell, Oxford