By James Wall.
One of the highlights of my summer has been harvesting the fruit from my Cot N Candy tree. This is a tree I have now grown for about six years.
After the third year, there was a bit of disappointment in this tree. It was becoming a big strong tree, but there wasn’t much reward in the way of fruit. The fourth year was no good either and I was contemplating its removal but then in the fifth year, we had a half decent yield.
The tree is self fertile, so doesn’t need another pollinator, but maybe it does need a cold winter. Lots of stone fruit needs a certain amount of ‘chill’ time. Basically it is it is the number of hours below 7c measured during the three main winter months of June, July and August required to set off flowering and blooming in many fruit trees. Dennis Ting actually discusses this in an earlier story here.
Well, this season, the tree produced a bumper harvest. I was picking big bowls of fruit and there was still more coming on. The fruit was like a large apricot in size, the fruit was clean and it was a pale yellow, with some fruit on the sunniest side getting a reddish tinge. Sure, I may have picked some of the crop a bit early, but like nearly always, it was a race against the birds in the end, including some grass parrots that appeared from nowhere.
The flavour is subtle and not like a normal apricot but it does have a pleasant aftertaste and is easy to eat more. It stewed up beautifully and I imagine would have made good jam if we had been a bit more organised.
What was it about the flavour that made it different to an apricot? That was when a bit of research on the Flemings website. It turns out that Cot N Candy is actually an interspecific hybrid. Put simply, it is an apricot crossed with a plum.
An interspecific hybrid is the cross between two individuals of different species but of the same genus. In other words, the hybridization between two species of the same genus.
A species of plant belongs to a larger genus, and this group of plants belong to an even larger family. Crossing the same species of plants like tomatoes, is very common, but this inter-crossing of different species is less so. Your classic example in the animal kingdom is the crossing of a donkey and a zebra which gets you a zonkey.
This all sounds a bit freaky, but amazes me that it is even possible. Looking at the tree, you wouldn’t know – it looks as natural as any other.
That’s not all either. look out for nectarines crossed with plums, and even a cherry crossed with a plum, which is of course called a “chum”.
A vigorous, self fertile, tree. Prune to vase shape to allow air and sunlight into centre of tree to enhance colour and flavour. Generally crops well. Fruit set can vary slightly with climatic conditions at bloom time and the region grown.