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In one of my settings, the people have domesticated the wild raspberry plant, and selectively bred it for larger and larger berries. Would it be plausible for these berries to reach the sizes of apples (or larger), or would this not be possible due to things like the biology of raspberry plants/soil richness/etc? If it were possible/plausible, what could/would these large raspberries be like, and what would the raspberry plants themselves look like if they had such large fruit?

(Since raspberries are made of small round parts, I am imagining they would either be made of many more or much larger of these small round parts.)

The kind of answer I am looking for would be something along the lines of "raspberries of that size would/wouldn't be possible because of X, and if they were possible they could look/taste like Y or Z, and the plants would look like ABC"

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    $\begingroup$ I have eaten giant strawberries, like the size of a palm...the human hand not the palm tree. They are quite common in europe during the winter....maybe raspberries are similar. $\endgroup$
    – User 89947
    Sep 4, 2021 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the appreciation, but please don't accept my answer yet, it might discourage other people more expert than me from giving better answers. $\endgroup$
    – User 89947
    Sep 4, 2021 at 22:24
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    $\begingroup$ It is customary to wait for 24-48 hours before accepting an answer on Worldbuilding.SE. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Sep 4, 2021 at 23:02

5 Answers 5

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  • Columbia Giant, a new blackberry cultivar developed and released by ARS. A Link to ARS article(not much useful info there).

Thornless blackberries are almost there, almost. So I guess it isn't too far fetched to breed a raspberry for size.

People already did the same with a lot of fruits which are minuscule in nature but can be humongous in farms like pomelos, pumpkins, bananas and cucumbers. Actually some pumpkins can get larger than a person.

Possible? Certainly so...maybe not naturally, unless some really picky animals decided to only eat the largest fruits and and thus spread only the seeds with gigantism genes.

I don't know much about raspberries but with thornless blackberries at least it seems that bulbs get larger and more numerous at the same time.

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    $\begingroup$ Size is just insane, I was looking at that q and was thinking no way, but you prove me wrong - the size is just aaa, I need to taste one, lol $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Sep 4, 2021 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg hope you do, if they are sold around. By the way, thanks for the edit. $\endgroup$
    – User 89947
    Sep 4, 2021 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ I can't help but look at those things and think of miniature corn cobs... $\endgroup$
    – nick012000
    Sep 5, 2021 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ From my experience, at least, blackberry canes (of erect varieties: there are also vining kinds) tend to be considerably larger & stronger than raspberry canes, and also have fewer berries per stem. So they can bear the weight of a few large fruits. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Sep 5, 2021 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf the strength of the stalk can be change as can the firmness of the fruit see grapes or tomatoes or corn. It may take a lot of generations but it is completely possible. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Sep 6, 2021 at 0:03
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It's plausible that you could make raspberries the size of apples, but you probably wouldn't like them very much.

The two problems are that raspberry plants are not strong enough to support apples, and that the flesh of raspberries themselves is not strong enough to hold itself together at an apple-like size. (This is a consequence of the square-cube law, which governs the size of many things).

Your raspberries would work if they grew on the ground, but that's gross.

Otherwise, both the plant and the berries themselves would have to get stronger. Woody plants are no problem, but big, tough raspberries are not much like raspberries.

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    $\begingroup$ "Your raspberries would work if they grew on the ground, but that's gross." Why gross? A lot of things are grow on the ground - pumpkins and melons come to mind. Why it would be a problem for berries? $\endgroup$
    – Mermaker
    Sep 6, 2021 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ Strawberries grow on the ground, at least more or less. (Albeit they aren't, pedantically, berries...) $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Sep 6, 2021 at 14:59
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From experience growing raspberries, probably not. Raspberries grow on canes that bear many berries at a time. Even at current sizes, the canes often need to be tied to supports, or the weight of the berries drags the cane to the ground. You'd have to breed canes with the strength of tree limbs. Even that might not work, since in years when my trees (apple, peach, pear, quince &c) set a lot of fruit, I need to thin it out or have branches broken by the weight of the ripening fruit.

OTOH, you could certainly breed apples that are about the size of large raspberries. Some crabapple varieties are pretty close now.

PS: Another reason is the growth habit of raspberries. They have an underground crown which is perennial, and which sends up canes every year. The canes are what bear the fruit, and only do so either the first or second year, then they die. So the canes never have time enough to become strong enough to carry lots of large fruit.

PPS: Now if you want to do a bit of genetic engineering, combine raspberries with roses. Some varieties of roses can develop trunks that are almost tree-like, so with proper pruning they should be able to support large fruit.

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    $\begingroup$ Does the plant die if the branches are weighted down and can't grow upright? I know some plants manage to survive by growing to the sides instead of up $\endgroup$
    – User 89947
    Sep 4, 2021 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Rad140: The berries rot, or are eaten by bugs & worms, if they lay on the ground. Fruits that grow on the ground seem to have a protective outer rind, like for instance melons. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Sep 5, 2021 at 3:12
  • $\begingroup$ see how grapes and tomato are grown, you can support weak growth, and being perirenal means little corn manages to grow in a single season. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Sep 6, 2021 at 0:01
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From a biological standpoint there is no reason why an apple sized raspberry should not evolve. However it is very difficult to imagine exactly what selection pressures would be necessary.

Depending on circumstances such a fruit might well be similar to but a little different from a traditional raspberry. There could be more segments, the skin might be a little tougher, the connection to the stem might be more robust to hold the weight and the stems themselves might be thicker and bigger.

But in principle its very doable.

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Probably easier to gene modify grapes to taste like raspberries. You have a plant that can already bear large weights of fruit. Or you could do the same with a peach, and each peach would be like one of the little balls on the raspberry.

Now could you breed a plant to have the taste and texture of good steak...

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  • $\begingroup$ You probably wouldn't even need to gene modify them, I'd lay even money there are suitable fruits you could hybridize with grapes to get the required flavour with a few crossovers. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Sep 26, 2021 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ Might be able to, but there isn't that much variation in grape flavour, although there are a bunch that taste awful. Grapes are about 3 years from breeding to fruit. You can cut at least 1 maybe 2 years off of that by grafting the young grape to an existing root stock, but this vastly increases the cost per trial. Recently USask did 9000 trials looking for a better table grape. Nothing came to market. $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2021 at 14:00

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