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Spineless Raspberries

Thornless raspberries are easy to cultivate: when cutting, tying and harvesting the fact that there are no thorns, makes dealing with the raspberry plants a lot easier. Even if the spines of raspberries (yes, these are spines and no thorns, see the relevant section below) are usually not nearly as big, piercing and dangerous as thorny blackberries, they can scratch you when it is harvesting time and almost go unnoticed on the skin and you can end up with a very red and swollen arm or in the summer sometimes with scratched legs. Anyway, this has happened to me a lot during working with our raspberry breeding plants – but because of the sheer pleasure of the berries one does not seem to notice the scratches!

Selection Of Raspberry Varieties In The Lubera Online Shop

The first three thornless varieties introduced by Lubera already cover almost all of the needs of home gardeners: with the yellow, or rather apricot-coloured Primeberry® Autumn Amber®, one of the most fertile autumn raspberries ever is available, forming fruitful lateral shoots almost from the start and unfolding an unprecedented fertility. The red-fruited thornless Primeberry® Malling® Happy has somewhat less-branched shoots, but instead has the largest fruits in our assortment, even larger than Twotimer® Sugana (S). The fruits of Malling® Happy have an elegant conical shape and ripen from the beginning of August up until the end of September. The dwarf raspberry Lowberry® Little Red Princess is also absolutely thornless and is perfect for growing in containers, as it is only about 80-100 cm high.  The only slightly thorned Lowberry® Little Sweet Sister® is also perfect for pots as it too is a compact variety.  Another compact variety that is better grown in the garden than in a container, is raspberry Primeberry Autumn Belle which grows about 120-150 cm high.  In this selection you can certainly find the right thornless raspberry variety for your garden or terrace, large or compact growing, red-fruited or yellow-apricot coloured.

 

   
 
Lowberry® Raspberry Little Red Princess®

The World's First Compact Autumn Raspberry

From £9.90 *

Lowberry® Raspberry Little Sweet Sister®

The fastest of all Raspberries

From £9.90 *

Raspberry Primeberry® Autumn Amber®

Apricot-coloured autumn raspberry

From £6.90 *

Raspberry Primeberry® Autumn Belle®

Compact growth - (almost) thornless

From £6.90 *

Raspberry Primeberry® Malling Happy®

Red autumn raspberry with giant fruits

From £7.40 *

   
 

Because these thorns can also be easily detached from the shoot or the petioles and just because they are small, they sometimes get stuck in the fingertips and subsequently lead to annoying inflammation and tedious “operations” with tweezers and scissors. And here is another thorn warning: the black raspberries have the strongest (re-hooking) thorns among the raspberries, but again, Lubera has been working on breeding thornless varieties (see the last section of this category introduction). In general, the lack of thorns and also varieties with fewer and weaker thorns is an important breeding goal in our intensive cultivation work with raspberries – and this work has already led to some wonderful thornless varieties, which you can find exclusively here in the Lubera® garden shop.

Benefits And Use Of Thornless Raspberries

The benefits of a thornless raspberry are obvious: no more skin injuries and no bothersome micro spines stuck in your fingers. This automatically results in the ideal use of thornless raspberry varieties: they should be planted in front of other types where they are touched more often: on the roadside, near terraces and living areas, of course, in pots on balconies and terraces. Especially for children, spineless or thornless varieties are advisable, if you want to bring them in the truest sense of the word as close as possible to the most delicious fruits there is...

Differences When Cultivating Raspberry Varieties

In principle, we see no difference between when cultivating prickly and thornless raspberries – except that growing thornless varieties is much easier. Also with the thornless raspberries, there are different susceptibilities to soil-borne diseases. Autumn Amber® seems to be more vulnerable and loves rather light soils; Primeberry® Malling® Happy and Lowberry® Little Sweet Sister show good tolerance to soil-borne diseases. At best, it makes sense to cultivate the thornless raspberries a bit looser, possibly even cutting out a few shoots every once in a while, so that the thornless, unreinforced raspberry plant can dry out well during the growth period and not get necrosis.

The Origin Of Thornless Raspberries

The thornlessness of raspberries has not been “artificially” introduced from anywhere, but comes from the developmental history of the raspberry itself. Genetically, the spinelessness is mostly due to the recessive genes. Again, we have the case that a horticulturally interesting property (such as, for example, the dwarfism in apple or raspberry) genetically only is only recessive (that is usually not visible). The explanation is quite simple: in evolution, mutations of smaller and larger genetic changes took place everywhere and in all directions (positive, negative, different), which were then tested in nature for their ability to survive. The property of “spinelessness” or “thornlessness”, which was dominant and thus transferred frequently and easily to the offspring, quickly disappeared again, since the lack of resistance of the raspberry shoots (without spines, without thorns) had literally nothing to oppose against the herbivore's feeding instinct and so the raspberry leaves and shoots were defencelessly eaten by the hungry animals of the forest. It is certainly still a fact that raspberry leaves taste quite good and some have a high sugar content. The property of spinelessness could survive only in a recessive way (invisible, so to speak) and can now be used in breeding to the benefit of the home gardener and also pickers. A little irony remains, however: what undoubtedly was negative in nature or in evolution is a blessing in the garden.

Do Raspberries Have Thorns Or Spines, Are They Thornless Or Spineless?

Of course, we also asked ourselves this question. Are the raspberries thornless or spineless? In doing so, we had best resort to the botanical definition of spines and thorns. Spines are external organs, formed only by epidermis and bark tissue, and they can often be easily stripped off. Thorns, on the other hand, are other shoot organs, shoots, leaves or stipules transformed into stinging instinctual parts. They belong, so to speak, to the instinct itself and also exhibit its vascular system.

Because of this definition, raspberries are clearly spineless, or their stinging organs are spines – not thorns. The term "spinelessness" is therefore botanically correct, even if the sense of language – at least mine – would tend more to the “thornlessness'” of raspberries.

Breeding Thornless Raspberry Varieties At Lubera

At Lubera, our raspberry breeding is one of the most important and largest breeding programmes that we have. In our partner breeding project in East Malling (Kent, UK), we select the best garden varieties from more than 7,000 seedlings every two years, and alternately in the intervening years, another 5,000 seedlings are added to our parent company in Buchs, Switzerland. The great potential of thornless varieties and also the world's broadest and most advanced genetics in terms of spinelessness, viral resistance, disease resistance and fruit quality in East Malling soon gave Lubera® the choice to enter the English breeding project as the exclusive partner for the home garden market. In Buchs, we are more interested in breeding compact raspberry varieties, stable, self-standing raspberry bushes and also dwarf raspberries. But of course, the two programmes also reciprocally stimulate breeding material from Switzerland to East Malling and vice versa: together, we can move forward much faster and now, after almost 10 years of intensive breeding work, there is probably the largest pipeline of raspberry cultivars in the European home garden market as well as for commercial cultivation. And many of these new varieties will be thornless. So we have e.g. the first thornless purple raspberries have already been obtained in the Swiss breeding programme. However, further cultivation tests have to show if the corresponding variety candidates are close enough to the black raspberries (especially the colour and special taste) or if they have to be backcrossed with black raspberries or purple raspberries in order to improve the properties of the black raspberries (except the spines). Breeding, like gardening in general, needs patience, but it also produces fruits. Sometimes even without thorns...or spines.

 

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