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The Boysenberry dates back to the early 20th century in southern California, but some of the details are lost to history. What we do know is that Rudolf Boysen experimented with cross-breeding berry species and, in this case, started with a cross bred berry called lubbenberry, developed by John Lubben by crossing Dewberry (Rubus aboriginum) and Loganberry (Rubus x loganobaccus).

 

Mr. Boysen’s experimentation added in European Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) and European Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) resulting in a plump, sweet berry that is dark, but appears under-ripe because of the redness at the top of the berry. He abandoned his berry experiments to focus on his orange orchards, but news of his forgotten berries made it to George Darrow of the USDA.

 

Sometime in the late 1920s, Darrow enlisted the help of berry farmer Walter Knott to cultivate this strange new berry to see if it was a commercially viable product. It was. Mr. Knott’s farm became so popular that it became the attraction known as Knott’s Berry Farm. At its peak, Boysenberries in California grew on over 500 acres in the 1950s. 

Their popularity began to wane with the growing popularity of frozen fruits and the consumers’ desire to have the same products available year-round.

 

Boysenberries have a thin skin, delicate texture, and a short harvest season. Cultivation of the Boysenberry moved north to Oregon where it has taken on new life, currently growing on over 600 acres, mostly within the Willamette valley.

Collected at West Union Gardens in Hillsboro, OR

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