Heirloom Strawberries

ProfdashFebruary 21, 2011

I am looking for two varieties of 19th-century strawberry--the Neunan (introduced 1866) and the Worthing (introduced 1887)--both of which were ubiquitous market strawberries in the U.S. south until supplanted by the Klondike in 1905. I'm drawing a blank in the germplasm repositories. Have these vanished?

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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Sorry that no one has replied to your post. I am also becoming very interested in heirloom strawberries. Unless a germplasm repository somewhere in the world has maintained these plants, they are liable to be lost... Yet another example of why we need to preserve heirloom cultivars, landraces and genetics for future generations.

That said, I sense quite a bit of prejudice toward heirloom or old-fashioned strawberries. Most garden writers, catalogues and online references tend to automatically write them off as "inferior." That sounds like an agribusiness marketing assessment to me, not an objective evaluation for home gardening use. After all, who would possibly want to grow smaller strawberries with loads of flavor that don't ship well and only produce a pint of berries per plant rather than a whole two quarts? Well, I would for one. The difference in flavor is totally worth the space even in a small urban garden.

The same can be said for many heirloom beans. Any old bean that has strings is shunned by the gardening public, even though it might have much better flavor or be even easier to prepare for cooking than a popular one that is "stringless."

What other strains of heirloom strawberries are you growing? I would love to find Fairfax, Suwannee, Royal Sovereign, Dunlap and Old North Sea.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 3:12PM
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I, too, have been working to find heirloom strawberries. I've requested a few samples from the germplasm bank in Oregon, but apart from that I really only have a couple - sparkle (duh) and madame moutot, apart from a handful of F. virginiana cultivars. I had Fairfax growing in my mother's garden when I was a child and I wish I could go back in time and grab a couple cuttings!

I don't suppose either of you would be willing to share cuttings/daughter plans from your heirlooms, would you? If so, I'd gladly share anything I end up with from the germplasm, once they get established! (One of the varieties is supposedly Royal Sovereign, I believe.)

I also want to start collecting 19th century rubus varieties, but I'm having a hard time finding a list of early cultivars.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 11:05PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I was given a few "British Sovereign" strawberry plants back in the 70's by a highly respected vegetable judge/grower so I'm sure that's what they are. I've managed to keep a few plants going more of a remembrance of this person then anything else.
The plants I have in a half barrel don't produce many berries but they sure are tasty. This strawberry from the little I've read was found in a Magoon strawberry field back in the 20's here in British Columbia.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 2:03PM
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I requested a bunch of heritage strawberry varieties from the USDA genebank in Oregon, I am really excited to get them! Royal Sovereign, Scarlet, Weisse Anna, Koralovaya, Perle de Prague, British Sovereign, Vicomtesse Hericart de Thury, Victorian Nameless and Kaiser's Samling. I'll be getting them in late summer, I am going to be raising them in Old fashioned manure hot beds, like these varieties used to be.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 12:57AM
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