Wonderberry vs. Black Nightshade

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Posted by Radishrain Radishrain
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Some people think wonderberries are black nightshade, such as is seen on one of the posts in the following thread on another forum: https://www.homesteadingtoday.com/threads/anyone-ever-grow-wonderberry-plants.298177/

However, I've never found any evidence that they are black nightshade, other than a similar appearance. Chichiquelite is also similar to black nightshade (but it's another species, too). Otricoli Orange Berry is black nightshade (but it's an orange kind of it). Wonderberries are listed as a separate species (and I think they're a hybrid species). I've grown all three. Wonderberries slip more easily from their calyxes, and in my opinion taste better. The others tasted toxic to me, however; see these posts I made about them:
* http://vegetables.boards.net/thread/136/ripe-chichiquelite
* http://vegetables.boards.net/thread/135/ripe-otricoli-orange-berries

Whatever the case, having eaten wonderberries, I can say with confidence that they the ripe ones are quite edible.

Also note that people in that thread say wonderberry leaves are edible. Huh? From what I've read elsewhere you definitely don't want to eat them for food. I wouldn't eat them, even though some people eat the leaves of edible black nightshades. They're a different species.

Wonderberry = Solanum retroflexum
Black Nightshade and Otricoli Orange Berry = Solanum nigrum
Chichiquelite and Garden Huckleberry = Solanum melanocerasum

Nevertheless some people think they're the same still. I doubt it, however.

Wonderberries are the easiest of those species to grow in my garden by far.

Note that my wonderberries are never particularly shiny pre-harvest. Chichiquelite is shiny, though.

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Radishrain Radishrain
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Re: Wonderberry vs. Black Nightshade

This post was updated on .
Okay, Luther Burbank, who spent 25 years breeding the wonderberry reportedly said they were a cross between Solanum Nigrum Guineense and Solanum villosum. So, they're part black nightshade (heavily bred by an expert plant breeder who really has done awesome stuff). See this article: https://forums.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/threads/growing-luther-burbanks-wonderberry-bush-from-seed.58548/

Note that wonderberry is the name Luther Burbank used; sunberry is the rebranding. The article says the reverse is true. I should probably fact check my statement, though.

However, a Dave's Garden reviewer says they're rather a cross between Solanum scabrum and Solanum villosum.
Location: SW Idaho, USA
Climate: BSk
USDA hardiness zone: 6
Elevation: 2,260 feet
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Radishrain Radishrain
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Re: Wonderberry vs. Black Nightshade

Apparently, there's some doubt (on Wikipedia) that Luther Burbank hybridized Solanum retroflexum from a cross between Solanum villosum and Solanum guineense, due to the differently ploidy of each (although that's nothing chromosome doubling with a chemical couldn't overcome, and if knowledge of that existed at the time, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Luther Burbank did it). However, that would probably necessitate wonderberries to have doubled chromosomes, and I don't know if they do.

However, we still have to consider the Dave's Garden reviewer who says Solanum scabrum and Solanum villosum are instead the proper parents. Wikipedia, of course, won't mention that, since it's only into certain kinds of sources, and Wikipedia is not about ferreting out the truth (it's more about already-published content).

Luther Burbank doesn't strike me as the type of individual who would have fraudulently introduced a plant. He's a pretty big name in plant breeding. So, we definitely need to give this more than a cursory study of things.

Genetic testing should definitely be able to prove the parentage. But, of course, they need to do the genetic testing on a seed line of wonderberries that is definitely descended from Luther Burbank's, and without further hybridization.
Location: SW Idaho, USA
Climate: BSk
USDA hardiness zone: 6
Elevation: 2,260 feet
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