What do you get when you cross-breed a plum and an apricot? Is it a plumcot, an aprium or a pluot? By combining the desired qualities of different fruits, horticulturists are creating new tasty varieties. Read on to learn more about hybrids you can get close to home.

A plumcot is an even cross between a plum and an apricot, but with a higher sugar content than either fruit on its own, making the plumcot a very sweet treat indeed. More than 15 varieties of plumcots reach their peak at various times between June and October in the United States, although some varieties that are grown in warmer climates like Chile are available locally as early as March.

More apricot than plum, the aprium is another mix of the two fruits. The outside looks a lot like an apricot, while the inside is made up of dense flesh that’s considerably drier than most apricots. Noted for its sweet and intense apricot taste, the aprium also has a hint of orange flavor. Patented by Zaiger Genetics, only two varieties of this fruit are currently on the market, and they’re generally available only in June.

Peacotums are crosses between peaches, apricots and plums. With a mix like that, no wonder its taste is described as resembling fruit punch! Peacotums have slightly fuzzy skin and are often quite juicy if allowed to fully mature on the tree. You’ll be able to find them in late June and early July.

When you cross-breed a tangerine with either a pomelo or grapefruit, you get a tangelo. This juicy hybrid tastes much like a tangerine but is easily distinguishable by a knob at the top of the fruit. The tangelo has loose skin, which makes it easy to peel, and its two varieties are available from mid-November to the beginning of February.

Yet another plum-apricot mix, the pluot resembles its predominantly plum parentage with its smooth skin, which can be solid, striped or speckled and range in color from yellow-green to black. The pluot is noted for its sweet, intense flavor and very juicy pulp. Zaiger Genetics has developed nearly 20 varieties of pluots, which are available between May and September.

MORE VARIETIES…
Boysenberry—European raspberry/common blackberry/loganberry
Lemonquat—lemon/kumquat
Loganberry—raspberry/blackberry
Nectacotum—apricot/plum/nectarine
Nectaplum—nectarine/plum

HYBRID HISTORY
Over a century ago, Luther Burbank, a horticulturalist from California was the first to successfully breed plums and apricots together, which he called plumcots. This new fruit, however, was known by growers for being temperamental and difficult to grow. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Floyd Zaiger and his company, Zaiger Genetics, created more successful varieties that were much tastier, although still somewhat temperamental.

Since then, Zaiger has led his team in hybridizing nearly all “stone fruit” varieties, including peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, cherries and almonds, and the company has been very successful—it holds over 90 U.S. plant patents. Still active at age 85, Zaiger is out in the field by 9:30 each morning and continues to make all final decisions on hybridization. His company recently released a self-fertile almond, and is now working on a plum-peach-cherry cross. a&s