Sunday, May 15, 2011

Raspberry: A Juicy Fruit

Raspberry is an edible fruit of the plants belonging to the genus Rubus and subgenus Idaeobatus. The term raspberry is actually used for the fruits of these plant species. The plants are perennial. They are actually grown for the fresh fruit market as fruits as well as for various grocery products like in the form of fruit juice, dried form or even in the form of puree. They are mid-summer plants but now a days technology has helped in the development of the varieties that can be cultivated throughout the year. The plants require ample sun and sufficient quantity of water for proper development. Wet and heavy soils or excess irrigation can result in the development of fungus responsible for root rot disease and finally the crop perishes. It prefers moist temperate regions. The seeds can be dispersed by birds along with their droppings.

Two types of commercially cultivated varieties are known namely summer bearing type and ever bearing type. The summer bearing types produce abundant fruit during the second year with very short fruiting in mid-summers. The ever bearing plants produce fruits in both first as well as second year of growth. They are generally planted in winter as dormant canes. A specialized production system known as long cane production is followed which involves growing the canes for one year in northern climate like Scotland or Washington State where chilling temperature for the bud is achieved very soon. These canes are then dug out and planted in warmer regions like Spain where they bear flowers and produce a very early season crop. The plants should be placed at a distance of about 1m from each other in well drained and fertile soil.

Dried Fruit

The flowers bear enough nectar for honey bees and other pollinators. The plant grows at a vigorous rate and can become invasive in local areas. The fruit is harvested when it comes out from the receptacle and acquires a deep colour ranging from red to deep purple depending upon the varieties. At the time of harvesting the fruits are sweetest and the excess fruits can be used to make jam. The leaves can be used either fresh or dried for making herbal and medicinal teas. They have an astringent flavor and are used for regulating menses in traditional system of medicine. A single raspberry weighs about 4 g on an average and is made up of about 100 drupelets which are juicy and bear a single and central seed. The bushes yield several fruits every year. Like dewberries and blackberries they have a when the receptacle is removed.

Raspberries are sometimes eaten by the larvae of some lepidopteran insects. They contain significant amounts of polyphenol antioxidants like anthocyanins which have a beneficial effect on human health. They are rich source of vitamin C and also B vitamins 1-3, folic acid, magnesium, copper, iron and manganese.

Raspberry: A Juicy Fruit

Navodita Maurice

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