There are only 3 indigenous fruits in America?

Just heard on Unwrapped

There are only 3 indigenous fruits in America.

Cranberries, blueberries and concord grapes.

Surely this isn’t true.

Is it?

Depends on your definition of a “fruit” and of “America”. Offhand, I can name tomatoes and chiles as fruit native to the Americas.

From Wikipedia:

If you choose the loser botanical definition of a fruit, most of the examples listed above including corn, tomatoes, green peppers, and squash/pumpkins all originated on the American continent.

Assuming ‘America’ means the fifty states, you can still have strawberries, raspberries, pawpaws, …

Damn fine question. According to these guys the first European settlers found strawberries when they landed. A kid’s page at the USDA concurs, but implies that the strawberries from then were different from today’s American strawberries.

Not to mention mangoes, papayas, avocados, varieties of squashes, etc.

Goddamn is this a good question! Apparently, the grapefruit is a new fruit and originated in Jamaica. I think that would make it the only non-Asian citrus, no?

I belive cranberries and blueberries are also a native No. American species, although they have European counterparts. I think the botanical definition would also cover vanilla.

My copy of The New Century Book of Facts lists avocado, cashew, cassava, america grape, cranberry, guava, papaw, prickly pear, pumpkin, black raspberry, american and chilean strawberry, and the tomato as being of new world origin. They missed the blueberry, and there are a number of other entries which are somewhat less fruitlike.

Concord grapes, as I understand it, are a strain developed as a hybrid (in Concord), not a native fruit. They were the first grapes to grow well in the harsh American environment.

paw paw
concord grape
prickly pear fruit (actually, those are pretty good…)
strawberry (N. America had indigenous variety pre-Europe contact)
(possibly other berries as well - there are a LOT of them)

A more botanical definition, and encompassing all of North American, would include:
squash such as pumpkins
grapefruit (although apparently there is some question…)

Mangoes are an Asian species.

The Cherimoya or custard apple, is native to Colombia and Bolivia. It’s darn tasty too!

Two more:

Oregon grape

These are not usually domesticated for their fruit, but the plants are sold as ornamentals. Both are native to the Pacific Northwest and were a significant part of the diet of the Indians in that area.

Elderberries aren’t native? I’m shocked. As a youth I picked wild elderberries in areas so remote no rational person would ever have planted them. I suppose they could have sprouted from seeds in bird droppings, or that elderberries aren’t a fruit, but I would bet elderberries are native, and this site agrees.




If we extend “America” to mean North America:
Native fruits I can think of off the top of my head:

Oregon Grape (Mahonia)
Islay Cherry
Wild grapes
Golden Currant
Strawberries (there’s a species native to California’s beaches)
Lemonade berry
White Sapote
Custard Apple
Sugar Apple
Black Sapote
Tropical Guava
Capulin Cherry
Muscadine Grape
Red Huckleberry
Indian Plum
Prickly pear fruits
Madrone (bland, but edible… sometimes a bit sweet)

Are huckleberries just considered another variety of blueberry?

And by “indiginous”, do we just mean “naturally found in America”, or “not naturally found anywhere else”?

Off the top of your head? Dang, what if you had a while to think about it? :slight_smile: