On a recent trip to the grocery or the farmers' market, you may have noticed piles of curious fruits with strange-sounding names. Pluots and plumcots, tangelos and tayberries. What are these fruits? And where did they come from?
In most cases, they're the work of agriculturists who have created hybrids of two or more fruits by means of cross-pollination: the transfer of pollen from the flower of one plant to the stigma of another. The methods they employ have, in some cases, been around for hundreds of years. But sometimes, a hybrid is a work of nature -- two fruits that cross-pollinated in the wild.
Hybrids have nothing to do with the GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) we so often read about. Unlike GMOs, the genetics of hybrid fruit have not been altered in a lab, which can be hard to believe given their sometimes fantastical appearances.
But even though some hybrids look like they've been Photoshopped, every one of the fruits in the below slideshow is real.
Blood limes are a cross between a red finger lime and an Ellendale Mandarin, which itself is an orange/mandarin hybrid. It's said to have a <a href="http://www.homecitrusgrowers.co.uk/australiannativecitrus/bloodlime.html" target="_blank">sweet, tangy flavor</a>. Photo credit: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=115681555158090&set=pb.115681385158107.-2207520000.1375474811.&type=3&theater" target="_blank">Dondingalong Organic Blood Limes</a>
A cross between a blackberry and a red raspberry, these berries have a sweet-tart flavor. They're <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/food/article/Tayberries-have-a-short-tart-season-3294481.php" target="_blank">excellent for jamming, thanks to high levels of pectin</a>.
Pluots are later-generation crosses of a plum and an apricot. These fruits <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/food/article/Pluots-take-a-juicy-bite-out-of-summer-3294379.php" target="_blank">taste like plums but have the texture of an apricot</a>.
Plumcots are the predecessors of pluots: A first-generation hybrids between a plum and an apricot. Plumcots are considered <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2009/08/pluwhat.html" target="_blank">tough to grow, harvest and ship</a>, which ultimately led to the cultivation of pluots.
Peacotums are a peach/apricot/plum hybrid. The mellow-tasting fruit has the texture of a peach, but <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/article/Peacotum-a-triple-treat-from-the-garden-3180956.php" target="_blank">tastes like a blend of plum and apricot</a>.
A hybrid of a tangerine and either a pomelo or grapefruit, tangelos are larger than tangerines, but lack the bitterness of a grapefruit. They have a <a href="http://sarasota.ifas.ufl.edu/FCS/FlaFoodFare/Tangelo.pdf" target="_blank">juicy, tangerine flavor</a>.
This strange-looking fruit is a cross between a pomelo and a white grapefruit. <a href="http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&RefSrch=yes&Query=PN/PP4645" target="_blank">Less bitter than a grapefruit</a>, the fruit is <a href="http://www.citrusvariety.ucr.edu/citrus/oroblanco.html" target="_blank">mild and sweet</a>.
The bitter rangpur is a hybrid between a Mandarin orange and lemon. Its taste is very acidic and the fruit can be used as a <a href="http://www.citrusvariety.ucr.edu/citrus/rangpur.html" target="_blank">substitute for limes</a>.
This fruit, a cross between a Key lime and a kumquat, has a sweet, edible skin and a bitter pulp not unlike a lime. Some find the <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/citrus-spotlight-limequats-82406" target="_blank">limequat a bit too tart to eat out of hand</a>, preferring it for use in jams, chutneys and other kumquat-based recipes. Photo credit: Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/crobj/3184282879/sizes/o/in/photolist-5RohmX-dSHg39-dSyQEr-dSBGvk-9DtiV1-dSHg5S-fjEHRe-dSHg2y-dSBGwx-dSEpg3-dSHg15/" target="_blank">srqpix</a>
This fruit is a cross between <em>fragaria chiloensis</em> (a strawberry native to Hawaii and the Pacific coasts of North and South America) and the common strawberry. Pineberries are smaller than strawberries and have a <a href="http://www.vitalberry.eu/pineberries/" target="_blank">slight pineapple flavor</a>.