I found PEAR-SHAPED low-bush cranberries for the first time in ten years picking. Shared it on the Berry Pickers FB group where people commented that they have never seen anything like that in 40-50 years picking. There were plants with just pears, 1, 2 or 3 berries on one plant. There were also plants with a combination of round and pear shaped berries on one plant. I estimate about 5% of the berries were these odd shaped ones.
Regina took two videos of the cranberry patches that are available on Youtube here and here
Also, others commented that this year they came across similar oddly shaped cranberries. I went back to the thread in the FB group and did a little research. I asked the people who said they came across similar shaped Lingonberries where they found them. Looks like these odd berries are pretty widespread this year. The locations I got:
Hawk Lane, Huston (2 people)
Sterling, near Big Johns
Knik-Goose Bay Rd, Wasilla
LEO staff sent this post to Katie Spellman at the UAF International Arctic Research Center, who forwarded it to Matt Carlson and Justin Fulkerson at the UAA Center for Conservation Science. Matt then forwarded the post to his colleagues at the Arctic University of Norway who study berries.
Matt Carlson, Director if the Alaska Center for Conservation Science, writes:
From Laura Jaankola, Professor in the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology at the Arctic University of Norway:
"I think that if all berries in same bush were the similar shape it must be genetic variation. I have seen now and then longer, oval shape lingonberries but not pear shape as those were. Fascinating. Sometimes pathogens or weather condition can affect the shape of berries but then it might more be that only some of the berries in the same bush are affected."
After seeing the video, it seems to me most likely a genetic mutation as almost all the berries where to lesser or greater degree constricted towards the base. Those berries are rather cute and I don’t know if anyone would be interested in developing a horticultural variety – maybe people at the Plant Materials Center?
Comments from LEO Editors:
Genetic mutations can change the look of a plant in many interesting ways! One of our favorite examples in the LEO Network is a fireweed plant found in Kenai with a genetic mutation called "fasciation." Check out the related posts to learn more! Erica Lujan