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January 4, 2009

'Ohio Everbearing' black raspberry

When I first heard about the 'Explorer' primocane-fruiting black raspberry, I was convinced it was the first such variety. As it turned out, I was wrong, as numerous such cultivars existed by the turn of the century, although very few ever achieved any importance.

An exception to this, however, is the very first primocane-fruiting black raspberry, 'Ohio Everbearing'. Although not a major commercial success, this variety remains significant as one of the very first cultivated American selections of Rubus, and probably the first named black cap (given the abundance of wild black raspberries, it probably took an unusual trait such as fall-fruiting to warrant a name and cultivation).

'Ohio Everbearing' was discovered in the wild by Nicholas Longworth. Longworth was a self-made millionaire banker from Cincinnati, which in 1804 when he moved there was almost the western frontier. Although his family remained important in local and U.S. politics, and he left an estate worth $10 million when he died in 1863, Longworth's most lasting legacy is as a horticulturist. Often called "The Father of American Viticulture" (a title sometimes applied to his correspondent, John Adlum), Longworth was an avid collector and disseminator of fruit varieties. He championed first the 'Alexander' and then the 'Catawba' grapes and introduced at least one strawberry of his own creation.



Everbearing Black Caps listed in Fred Card's
Bush Fruits (1920)

American Everbearing
Cottier Everbearing
[Grigg's] Daily Bearing
Earhart
Everlasting
Every Day
Fadely
General Negley
Hixon's Everbearer
Kagy Everbearing
King of Cliff's
Lum's Autumn Black Raspberry
Lum's Yellow Canada
Miller's Daily Bearing
Munson's Everbearing
Mystery
Ransom's Everbearing
Sweet Home
Wonder
Longworth found the original 'Ohio Everbearing' somewhere in central Ohio, where he had retreated in the fall of 1832 to escape cholera outbreaks in Cincinnati. Despite it being September or October, he "found a raspberry in full bearing, a native of our state, the only everbearing raspberry I have ever met with. I introduced it the same winter into my garden, and it is now cultivated by me in preference to all others, and my table is supplied from the beginning of June to frost." Although the variety struggled somewhat on the gravelly soils of his fields, it performed better on clay soils, and Longworth was convinced it might have a future, especially in England. He sent plants there, as did A.J. Downing, though it seems have had little impact there. The legendary Dr. Hogg did note its existence in England as late as 1884, when it was probably gone in the U.S. (Incidentally, in my hypothetical strawberry-themed band, my stage name was going to be "Dr. Hogg").

Longworth was among the foremost horticultural authorities of his day, and an everbearing variety of raspberry would seem to be a major development, so it seems like it should have caught on, but while he and a few others cultivated it commercially, it never seems to have. Black caps, in general, have never attained commercial prominence, perhaps because they were foreign to European tastes, and thus unable to compete with the more familiar red raspberries. Many other everbearers, such as 'Grigg's Daily Bearing', 'Miller's Daily Bearing', and 'Lum's Autumn Black' were selected from its seedlings. (Indeed, I rather suspect most, if not all, of those everbearing black raspberries that appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century may claim it as an ancestor. Most of these seem to originate in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, or Illinois, the areas nearest the discovery and commercialization of Longworth's variety).

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14 Comments:

At 2/19/2010 07:31:00 AM, Blogger teacupsandpoodles said...

I love black raspberries and would love to purchase an everbearing black raspberry plant. I did not know that there was one and was going to plant some everbearing goldens next to some wild black raspberry plants in hopes of cultivating my own. Thanks for sharing this information. Very interesting!

 
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