The Giant Raspberries of Jilin

(January 2008 Update: The large fruited raspberry described below has been identified as a tetraploid R. parvifolius – not R. crataegifolius as we suspected when it was collected. Plant breeder Harvey Hall suggests that this raspberry is the cultivar ‘Fengmanhong’. -- jp)


During the summer of 1996, Maxine Thompson, Joseph Postman and Chad Finn, along with three Chinese colleagues, explored the Northeastern Provinces of China - In Search of Genetic Resources of Small Fruit Crops. One of the most noteworthy collections to result from this expedition is a sample of wild Rubus crataegifolius Bunge with exceptional fruit size. We encountered this species in the wild, and made many seed collections between about 41 and 46 degrees north latitude, but along the banks of the Songhua reservoir near the modern city of Jilin we found a half dozen local vendors selling fruit that was twice the size of anything we had seen.

Fruit Vendors at Songhua Reservoir

We purchased about a pound of fruit from each vendor, which was combined as one sample. The fruit had been collected in the mountains within about 5 kilometers of the reservoir. Most of the fruit measured between 2.5 and 3 cm wide! The fruit we were able to collect in different regions was at most 1.5 cm in width. Seed from this accession, which is available from the repository as RUB 1917, has already been shared with several raspberry breeders around the world .

Prepared by J. Postman, January 1997