While attempting to cross two varieties of blackberries, Logan accidentally planted them next to an old variety of red raspberry, all of which flowered and fruited together. The varieties involved in the Loganberry hybrid were probably 'Texas Early' or 'Aughinburgh' blackberry and 'Red Antwerp' red raspberry which were two of the three Rubus varieties planted in Logan's yard that year. Logan gathered and planted the seed. The 50 seedlings produced plants similar to the blackberry parent Aughinbaugh, but were larger and more vigorous. One was the Loganberry; the remaining 49 included the Mammoth Blackberry (the longest fruit of any variety ever grown). Since Logan's time, crosses between the cultivars of raspberry and blackberry have confirmed the Loganberry's parentage. Logan's original was introduced to Europe in 1897, while the 'American Thornless', a prickle-free mutation, was developed in 1933.
A similar hybrid is the Nessberry which is a cross between a dewberry and the red raspberry.
The Phenomenal Berry or 'Burbank's Logan' is a 2nd generation cross (i.e. two first generation crosses were crossed to each other) between blackberry and raspberry made by Luther Burbank in 1905.
The Loganberry proved to be productive and well adapted to local conditions, but its flavor was not popular with customers. Its main use was as a parent for further hybrids. It has been used as a parent in more recent crosses between Rubus species, such as Tayberry (loganberry x raspberry), Boysenberry (loganberry x a dewberry), Youngberry (Phenomenal berry x Austin Mayes dewberry) and Olallieberry (Black Logan x Youngberry).
A less widely accepted theory suggests that the Loganberry originated as a red-fruiting form of the common Californian blackberry Rubus ursinus.
The Loganberry, being a variety unfamiliar to people in any other place, I will devote more space to its account than to others. From a circular giving its history I extract these notes:
The Loganberry originated with Judge J. H. Logan, of Santa Cruz, Cal., from whom it derives its name. Several years ago, growing in his garden, were plants of the Aughinbaugh blackberry and Red Antwerp raspberry. The plants, being near each other, had intermixed or grown together. The judge, having noticed that they bloomed and ripened their fruit together, conceived the idea of planting the seeds, from which planting resulted the production of the Loganberry.
He is entitled to all credit for the origination of this noble fruit, which will be a perpetual monument, placing his name beside those of Longworth, Hovey, Wilson and other originators of new varieties of fruit. He has even done more than they. He has produced a fruit or berry entirely unlike any in previous existence, a hybrid or mixture of two fruits, partaking of the characteristics of both of its parents. The Aughinbaugh blackberry, from the seed of which the Logan is supposed to have originated, has pistillate or imperfect flowers, which must have been fertilized by the polen of the raspberry, producing this most singular and valuable fruit.
The vines or canes of the Loganberry grow entirely unlike either the blackberry or raspberry. They trail or grow upon the ground more like the dewberry. They are exceedingly strong growers, each shoot or branch reaching a growth of eight to ten feet in one season without irrigation, the aggregate growth of all the shoots on one plant amounting to from forty to fifty feet.
The canes or vines are very large-- without the thorns of the blackberry bushes--but have very fine soft spines, much like those of raspberry bushes. The leaves are of a deep green color, coarse and thick, and also like those of the raspberry. The fruit is as large as the largest size blackberry, is of the same shape, with globules similar to that fruit, and the color, when fully ripe, is a 'dark bright red'. It has the combined flavor of both berries, pleasant, mild, vinous, delightful to the taste and peculiar to this fruit alone.
It is excellent for the table, eaten raw or cooked, and for jelly or jam is without an equal. The seeds are very small, soft and not abundant, being greatly different from both its parents in this respect. The vines are enormous bearers, and the fruit is very firm and carries well.
The fruit begins to ripen very early-- the bulk being ripe and gone before either blackberries or raspberries become plentiful. In filling in a place just ahead of these fruits the market value of the Loganberry is greatly enhanced. In ordinary seasons the fruit begins to ripen from the middle to the last of May. When extensively planted and generally known, this berry is destined to take front rank owing to its earliness, large size, beautiful appearance, superior quality, and delightful flavor, together with its firmness and good carrying or shipping quality.
Mr. James Waters, of this valley, has sole right with this vine.
Due to its high vitamin C content, the loganberry was used by the British navy at the beginning of the 20th century as a source of vitamin C to prevent sailors from getting scurvy much the same as the British did with limes during the late 18th century (hence the American term for the British, "limey"). During this period at the beginning of the 20th century the largest proportion of loganberries grown for the British navy (roughly 1/3) were grown on a single farm in Leigh Sinton, near Malvern in Worcestershire run by the Norbury family where Sir Edward Elgar taught the piano. The farm is still running today although hops replaced loganberries and since then cereal crops and oil seed rape have replaced hops.
Loganberry plants are sturdy and more disease- and frost-resistant than many other berries. However, they are not very popular with commercial growers due to several problems which increase labour costs. The plants tend to be thorny and the berries are often hidden by the leaves. Additionally, berries of varying maturity may grow on a single plant, making it difficult to completely harvest one. They are therefore usually kept in domestic gardens.
The loganberry bush is usually about 10 canes large. The canes are not as upright as its raspberry parent and tend to vine more like its blackberry parent. It can be undisciplined in its growth and the cane (vine) can grow 5 or more feet in a year. Some gardeners train the canes fanwise along a wall or a wire frame. Old canes die after their second year and should be cut away as they can bring disease, and hinder harvesting. If it is not correctly pruned, it can produce blackberry 'sports'.
This photograph shows loganberries in blossom above others in fruit. The fruit starts green (as shown on the left), then red (as shown above) and finally a deep purple.
The berries are generally harvested when they are a deep purple color, rather than the red shown in the illustration above.
A use common to Southern Ontario, Canada, and Western New York, USA, is Loganberry Juice. While the Loganberry is primarily harvested in the Western United States, growers there were unaware that a niche market existed for a Loganberry-derived drink to the east. According to local lore, the loganberry drink was developed by entrepreneurs in the late 1800s at Crystal Beach, a local summertime resort, and one time amusement park, in Southern Ontario. The drink continued to be served at the amusement park and is still produced there. The most popular commercial version is 'Aunt Rosie's', which is commonly enjoyed in Western New York. 'Aunt Rosie's' is distributed by the local Pepsi-Cola bottling operation out of Buffalo, and is found in local restaurants and establishments. A smaller, more local version of Loganberry juice is available to locals in New York's Capital District, under the name of PJ's Crystal Beach Loganberry Juice, available in Sparkling and Diet. Loganberries may also be purchased in their syrup form in local supermarkets for use at home.