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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Physiology and Genetic Improvement of Small Fruit Crops Title: The Chilean strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis): Over 1000 years of domestication

Authors
item Finn, Chad
item Retamales, J -
item Lobos, G -
item Hancock, Jim -

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: March 15, 2013
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
Citation: Finn, C.E., Retamales, J.B., Lobos, G.A., Hancock, J. 2013. The Chilean strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis): Over 1000 years of domestication. HortScience. 48:418-421.

Interpretive Summary: The cultivated strawberry of South America, Fragaria chiloensis, has a long history. Over one thousand years ago, the Mapuche and the Picunche people began to select superior, large, white-fruited forms. When the Spanish invaded they considered these superior clones as a bounty of conquest and they carried them north along the Pacific Coast to Ecuador and Peru. In Chile, the native species was cultivated in small 1–2 ha (hectare) plots, and later plots of many hectares were grown. While cultivated F. ×ananassa was introduced in Chile around 1830, F. chiloensis was still preferentially grown. In the early 1900s, a large canning industry emerged serving hundreds of acres of F. chiloensis. By the 1950s, F. ×ananassa cultivars began to predominate, displacing much of the traditional F. chiloensis production. An increased awareness of this vast native Chilean genetic resource arose in the 1980s-1990s, and scientists from Chile and the United States began to collect and characterize this germplasm that represents not only tremendous diversity but captures many of the land races that have been developed. A small but vibrant community of small growers, particularly in Chile and Ecuador, produce the land races for commercial sale in local markets. Around 30-40 ha of open field plantings are cultivated with yields averaging 3–4 tons/ha. Selected F. chiloensis genotypes and collected clones from the wild have served as a valuable source of germplasm in modern breeding programs, and the development of new cultivars, with the white color and aromatic flavor typical of the traditional selections is well under way.

Technical Abstract: The cultivated strawberry of South America, Fragaria chiloensis, has a long history. At least two native peoples, the Mapuche and the Picunche began the domestication process. While white- and red-fruited forms were domesticated, the white form was preferred as the red-fruited types are not mentioned frequently in the literature. At the time of the Spanish invasion, F. chiloensis was widely grown in small garden plots. Under the Spanish rule, larger plantings first of 1–2 ha and later of many hectares were grown. As the Spanish continued their exploration and conquest of South America, they carried F. chiloensis with them up the western coast to Perú and Ecuador. Cultivated F. ×ananassa was introduced in Chile around 1830, but F. chiloensis was still preferentially grown. In the early 1900s, a large canning industry emerged serving hundreds of acres of F. chiloensis. By the 1950s, F. ×ananassa cultivars began to predominate displacing much of the traditional F. chiloensis production. An increased awareness of this vast native Chilean genetic resource arose in the 1980s-1990s. Scientists at the Universidad de Talca, associated with USDA-ARS Plant Exploration Office sponsored trips to Chile, and with El Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA)-Cauquenes in Chile, have collected and characterized germplasm that represents not only tremendous diversity but captures many of the land races that have been developed. This germplasm has been utilized in small commercial plantings (0.1–0.3 ha) and in breeding programs to further develop F. chiloensis cultivars. A small but vibrant community of small growers, particularly in Chile and Ecuador, produce the land races for commercial sale in local markets. Around 30-40 ha of open field plantings are cultivated with yields averaging 3–4 tons/ha. Selected F. chiloensis genotypes and collected clones from the wild have served as a valuable source of germplasm in modern breeding programs, and the development of new cultivars, with the white color and aromatic flavor typical of the traditional selections is well under way.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014
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