Logan Blackberry and Mammoth Blackberry.
Written for the PACIFIC RURAL PRESS by the Originator, Judge J. H. LOGAN, of Santa. Cruz.
|The Mammoth Blackberry|
In 1880 I started a fruit and vegetable garden on the Heights in Santa Cruz, Cal. I planted every variety of blackberry and raspberry I could obtain. These were generally planted without any reference to association of varieties. There was one exception. I planted the Texas Early (a variety of the Rubus Villosus, or High Bush) and the California dewberry (Rubus Ursinus, a sub-variety of the Rubus Canadensis) side by side. I had in mind a cross between those two berries.
I think it is generally conceded that the California wild blackberry for its flavor of fruit is without a peer, but it has so many adverse characteristics that its cultivation is limited. The Texas Early, while not as desirable as the Ursinus for fruit, has qualities for the purpose of crossing not possessed by any other blackberry, viz: early flowering and being unisexual or staminate. The Ursinus is one of the earliest of all berries, and the Texas Early flowers over a greater period of time than any other berry, being practically an evergreen.
The Ursinus generally begins to grow in February, and flowers in March and April, consequently a cross between the California Ursinus and Texas Early was possible; hence, seeing the opportunity for a cross that might make an improvement on both varieties, they were planted side by side. By the merest accident, not deeming a cross between the blackberry and the raspberry possible, 1 planted a variety of the Red Antwerp (Rubus Idaeus), which was one of the best raspberries growing in Santa Cruz at that time, and for an all round berry I think has no equal.
In 1881 the plants bore, in pursuance of my original intentions the Ursinus seed was taken and planted in August, 1881. About three hundred seedling plants were produced, all, as far as I noticed, were closely alike in appearance. They did not resemble in cane or foliage any blackberry I had ever before seen. In the spring of 1888 1 noticed one of the seedlings unlike the others. It happened to be the very first one in the row, and its similarity and appearance to the raspberry was most striking. This was the Loganberry. In May of that year the berries all began to ripen, and the result of the planting became apparent. In addition to the Loganberry, there were two kinds of blackberries, differing but slightly in appearance of cane, but were distinctly different in the form of fruit. The peculiarity of the vines of both blackberries was as striking as that of the Loganberry. They were neither High Bush nor dewberry, but a medium between the two.
They start growing in the spring, with large, vigorous, erect canes, and when they reach the height of six or seven feet they take on the running habit and fall down to the ground and make prodigious growth of cane. The spines are frequent, in that respect resembling the Ursinus, but larger and much more stout. The general appearance of these vines are unmistakably blackberry, but they can easily be distinguished from the old varieties.
The result of this planting, as I before said, was the Loganberry, a cross between the Ursinus and the raspberry, and a blackberry, a cross between the Ursinus and Texas Early. The blackberry has been separated into two sub-varieties under the name of the Mammoth, and a variety called for want of a better name, the Logan blackberry. In their early years these blackberries were not different enough in appearance to be easily distinguished, but later cultivation developed characteristics that separated them into distinct sub-varieties. While the difference in the general appearance of the two vines was apparent only to an expert, their fruiting qualities were conspicuously different. The Mammoth in style of growth, differs not only in its larger leaves, and somewhat larger canes, but its distinguished feature is the enormous size of its berry. It can be safely said that in size no other berry approaches it. Berries are frequently found two and one-half inches long. Large fruit generally is preferable to small, as it has more pulp or meat and less seed or core.
The Mammoth and the Logan blackberry, when cooked may be indistinguishable, but eaten fresh for size of the Mammoth, for the reason stated, renders it far preferable. The Logan blackberry, however, has its good qualities, some of which make it a more profitable vine to grow for the market than any other berry. The amount of its fruit producing cane is enormous, although in that respect it has not much advantage over the Mammoth, but its bearing qualities are simply marvelous. When the crop is at its height, the leaves of the plant are literally hidden from view by the enormous mass of berries. Many plants when well cultivated will cover the side of an average sized dwelling, measuring sometimes as much as 140 feet of bearing cane. I measured one cane of a Mammoth plant that had 146 feet of bearing cane, and the plant had other small canes that would have increased the amount to about 175 feet.
There was, in April of this year, in the garden of Supervisor Miller, of Santa Cruz, a Mammoth blackberry plant that had seven canes standing at a height of about seven feet, with no tendency yet to fall to the ground. What such an enormous growth of bearing cane will produce is beyond belief. A dozen plants of the Lawton, or Kittatiny, would not equal it in aggregation of bearing wood and fruit producing capacity.
It is claimed by those who have taken account of the fruit of one vine, that one hundred of the small fruit baskets in which all small fruits are generally marketed, have been taken from one vine of the Logan blackberry.
The Loganberry posses merits of the highest order for pies, shortcake, jam and jelly. It stands alone as a fresh fruit. When gathered at maturity and kept for about 24 hours in sugar, and eaten raw, it is delicious. But as it is usually gathered for the market, some ripe and some half ripe, it is not at its best.
As a producer it lacks the vigor and producing qualities of the black varieties. As a permanent plant it is not showing the stability that could be desired and requires frequent replacing of old vines with new plantings.
The Loganberry, in California Coast counties, usually begins to ripen about May 15th, and the principal crop is gone by July 15th, to be continued by lesser harvests to about August 15th. In the States of Oregon and Washington, however, it fruits at least a month later, and it is there showing a vigor and permanency, size of fruit and bearing qualities not found in California.
Mammoth and Logan blackberries have about the same ripening season, beginning about May 15th. In this respect it has supplied a long felt want, as blackberries prior to their introduction did not come in earlier than the first of July. They are now supplying the markets of this State with berries at least six weeks earlier than before their introduction.
As before stated, in planting the seed from which these berries were produced, the sole purpose was to produce an improved wild blackberry from a cross between the Texas Early and the Ursinus. The natural characteristics of the two berries mentioned rendered a new variety extremely probable. The Ursinus is a dewberry and is the prevailing, and apparently only, wild blackberry on the Pacific slope, excepting one in Alaska. The Ursinus existing in two forms and of separate sexes, one bearing the seed carp without fructifying pollen, and the other the pollen without the seed carp. The two must exist in near contact but in separate units. This has rendered a cross of the Ursinus and the highbush Lawton, or Kittatiny, impossible because not flowering together.
The fact that the Texas Early and the Ursinus flower together, caused their selection for the experiment. It was not deemed possible that a cross could be made between the raspberry and the blackberry, although both belong to the Rubus family. Repeated efforts had been made prior to that time to make such a cross, always resulting in a failure for some reason or other. Many such crosses were produced by the late E. S. Carman, of the Rural New Yorker, in former times. The cross was measurably successful and hybrid fruit was produced, but it was all, for some reason, defective and useless. Apparently the production of the Loganberry was the first successful cross ever made between these two different forms of the Rubus family. This occurred, as stated, in 1881. The result of uniting the forms and characteristics of the raspberry and blackberry was the production of a form of fruit and cane that had no existence before, at any rate nothing of the kind was in successful cultivation.
In fact it is an entirely new fruit, belonging, of course, to the Rubus family, but it is as distinct from any fruit heretofore in existence as is the blackberry or the raspberry. This is further borne out by the fact that the seeds of the Loganberry grow readily and produce fruit, but the fruits, like all other seedlings, are worthless except in rare instances, perhaps one in a thousand is equal to the parent. The Loganberry apparently has all the characteristics of the Ursinus, excepting in color and appearance which are raspberry, with a divided blackberry and raspberry flavor.
The roots have no adventitious buds, but plants are principally propagated from the tips or stolons which form in the fall at the end of the canes. The character of the running and dropping plant, which bends over in the fall, thereby reaching the ground, renders the multiplication of this vine by tips exceedingly easy. Unless the tips are allowed to reach soil their propagation by that method is impossible. This characteristic of the Ursinus not only controls the raspberry-blackberry cross, but also the Mammoth and Logan blackberry. So far as known no single plant has ever originated from these combinations, except by tips, cane buds or seeds. The multiplication of plants from the buds on the cane by layering is feasible. Canes buried only so deep in the ground as not to smother the buds, will strike roots on the underside down into the ground, and cane buds up in the air.
Another strange peculiarity is that the seedlings of the Loganberry have uniformly resulted in a berry similar to the Loganberry parent, but like most seedling fruits are, as a rule, worthless. They are always red, mostly small, utterly useless for cultivation, and the blossoms are—unlike the Ursinus parent —uniformly perfect, requiring no pollen from any other plant for fructification.
The characteristics of the forms of the three hundred plants of the cross between the Ursinus and Texas Early, as before described, were, as to many of them, different. It is not certain that many of these plants were of any value, many of the plants being like the Ursinus, fruit bearing but with no pollen. All such were, like the Ursinus, barren unless growing near pollen bearing plants. These have been scattered around all over the country, resulting in some cases in large gardens being filled with these worthless plants deficient in any power of fertilization and barren of fruit unless pollenized by stray staminate plants.
I have seen gardens with acres of such vines, with the result that they were barren and resulting in the production of no fruit. Persons having such vines can easily determine them by an exanimation of the flower. It will show that they are entirely without stamens, consequently must be pollenized from some chance contact with other berry plants. Another very singular peculiarity of not only the raspberry-blackberry cross. but of the blackberry crosses, was the planting of seeds of these several varieties cross pollenized, Out of hundreds of plants put out by the originator, as an experiment, in his garden at Santa Cruz—including Ursinus pollenized with the Loganberry, and Ursinus cross pollenized with the Mammoth and with the Logan blackberry, the flowers were uniformly perfect, but they were utterly barren of fruit, indicating that nature would tolerate no further crosses, the plants clearly bearing the characteristic of the Texas Early cross, and from which not a single perfect berry was found from the hundred plants.
The observer has not failed to notice that in the field of horticulture but little has been accomplished by our boasted advancements in science While it is claimed by some people that they have secret methods of producing new fruits, and it is done under the operations of some magic or mystery, such claims are entirely without foundation, Notwithstanding the great advancements in other fields, horticulture can claim no conspicuous results from the experiments of men supposed to be skilled in that field.
The fruit of the modern world that is now in general use and furnishes the choicest and best fruits in our markets, are almost uniformly Dot of recent origin. The two apples which stand at the head and front of the market—the Newton Pippin and the Bellefleur—originated more than one hundred years ago. The two pears which are unapproached by any other in existence; the Bartlett, originated one hundred and fifty years ago in England, and the Seckel originated nearly one hundred years ago.
The same can be said of the Black Tartarian and Royal Ann cherries, the French prune, and almost every variety of grape remarkable for their excellence. In fact there is scarcely an apple, pear, plum, prune or grape now a public favorite that is not described in "Downing's Fruits and Fruit Trees of America." in the edition of 1845. The fruits I have mentioned are in a class by themselves.
It is, I think, an established fact that fruit under the manipulation of the hand of man are barren of results. All great productions in horticulture have been accidental seedlings, and were but the growth of nature assisted by intelligent selection and association. All that man can do, and he had done much, by his mechanical work is to create opportunities for their origination and caring for the best.
From the millions of wild seedlings that are grown every year from nature's planting, only furnish increased opportunities for the production of new fruits. Man's duty then begins to care for and cultivate these accidental seedlings when found growing wild.
Of the thousands of new fruits and flowers yearly launched upon an unsuspecting public there may not be in a good many years a single plant that will survive intelligent criticism, or that will be of any value whatever to the public, when tried in the orchard. A look at the catalogues issued every spring by nurserymen discloses plates of the most gorgeously colored flowers and fruits, to be followed by bitter disappointment when planted in gardens and fully developed.
[Judge Logan's generalization as to the utility of fruit varieties now popular is a little broad. The list of chiefly grown commercial peaches and shipping plums includes a large proportion of new varieties. The same is true, to less extent, however, of cherries. We certainly need the old, but we cannot safely disregard the new. It is enterprising to try them. Where would Judge Logan's berries be if the policy he advocates had been strictly followed? Would they have ever gone beyond the borders of his garden in Santa Cruz? His evident advice, not to expect from the new all that their introducers may claim, is good; but if you expect too little there would be no progress.—Editor]