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What is a Tayberry?

By D.M. Abrecht
Updated May 16, 2024
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The tayberry is one of several hybrid berries created by cross-breeding a blackberry with a raspberry. It originated in Scotland and is named after the Scottish river Tay. Grown mostly in small home gardens, the fruit is eaten raw or made into fruits spreads or desserts. It is often compared favorably to the loganberry and the boysenberry, which are somewhat better-known blackberry-raspberry hybrids.

The fruit was created by botanist Derek Jennings, a skilled breeder at the Scottish Crops Research Institute (SCRI) of Invergowrie, Scotland, with the assistance of fellow researcher David Mason. Jennings was also responsible for the Glen Clova raspberry, the Loch Ness blackberry, and several other berries that were commercially successful in the United Kingdom and worldwide. The two men developed the tayberry by crossing an Aurora blackberry with a polyploid Malling Sport raspberry. It was first bred in 1962 but wasn't released commercially until 1979. With large, sweet berries and a pleasant fragrance, the plant has been a hit with home growers.

Like the two fruits from which it is bred, the tayberry is an aggregate fruit that grows on a bramble. The thorny bush runs along the ground before sending up rigid shoots or "canes." The bush can be grown from seed or from root cuttings. The reddish-purple berry is larger and sweeter than most raspberry or blackberry varieties, but still retains some tartness. The bushes yield much fruit, which can be harvested from July through August.

There are a few drawbacks for the home grower looking to cultivate the tayberry. The plant is susceptible to cold-weather damage and does better in climates with mild winters; mulch can be used to protect the roots from the cold. It is also susceptible to viruses. The stems are weak and do better if propped up with a trellis. Finally, new canes will only bear fruit starting with the second year.

Varieties of the tayberry include the tummelberry, which is hardier but not as sweet; the Buckingham tayberry, which has no thorns; and the Medana tayberry, which is certified virus-free. A fruit called the hildaberry — reportedly named for the breeder's wife — was created by crossing a tayberry with a boysenberry.

Tayberries can be used just like raspberries. They may be eaten straight from the bramble or made into jams, jellies, cobblers, pies, and other fruit desserts. A few wineries in the United Kingdom make and sell red tayberry wine. It is said to be sweet and full-bodied.

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Discussion Comments
By behaviourism — On Jul 19, 2011

My parents live in Ohio, and I don't think tayberries have reached that area yet. It's too bad, I would love to try some but haven't found anywhere near me that sells them either.

By Oceana — On Jul 19, 2011

I live in southern Florida, and I’ve had good luck with growing tayberries down here. If the winter has a few harsh days, I just cover them with a tarp until the cold passes.

One of my favorite things to make from the berries is homemade jam. There is nothing more delicious to me that fresh fruit spread out over a crisp piece of white wheat toast. It goes perfectly with a cup of slightly sweetened coffee with just a dash of milk added.

Something about the taste of caffeine and berries goes together so well. I think it’s the fact that both have a strong flavor. The slight bit of sugar I add to my coffee complements the sweetness of the jam.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 18, 2011

I love raspberry flavored candy and drinks, but the taste of pure raspberry fruit is just too tart for me. I love blackberry cobbler and yogurt, but true blackberries often leave a bitter taste in my mouth. Tayberries are the perfect marriage of the two.

In fact, I have found that when making tayberry cobbler, I only have to use half as much sugar as I do in a blackberry cobbler. I hate overly sweet desserts, so this made me very happy.

I also can make a syrup on the stovetop with just a bit of sugar and tayberries. I pour this syrup over vanilla ice cream for a wonderful, naturally fruity flavor.

By shell4life — On Jul 17, 2011

@ - I think that last winter was harsh all over the country. I tried planting tayberries where I live in Zone 7, a normally mild climate, and we had about 20 inches of snow over the winter. We haven’t had snow like that since the 1960's! Well, the tayberry plants died.

I decided to give it another shot this year. I set some out just after the danger of frost had passed to give them plenty of time to develop before berry season. I had some tiny berries grow, but it will take until next summer for them to really bear any fruit worth eating.

By wavy58 — On Jul 17, 2011

Tayberries remind me of the flavor of mixed berry yogurt. You get the taste of a little bit of several berries that cannot be distinguished from each other.

Mixed berry smoothies also have reminded me of tayberries ever since I tried them last summer. I thought about transplanting some from my friend's yard to my own, but now I'm glad I didn't go the trouble, because last winter was so harsh, they could not have survived.

Also, mixed berry Koolaid has a tayberry flavor. In fact, every kind of mixed berry drink or dessert I can think of tastes like tayberries! Since I love many kinds of berries, this type is perfect for me.

By myharley — On Jul 16, 2011

I was disappointed to read that tayberries need a mild winter. I live in a zone 5 gardening area which is fine for raspberries and blackberries, but it sounds like it is too cold for tayberries.

I think berries often taste better when they are mixed with other kinds of berries. Even when I make berry desserts or smoothies, I like to mix several different kinds of berries. I would love to add tay berry to my list, but it sounds like I won't be able to grow them myself.

By John57 — On Jul 16, 2011

Being a lover of any kind of berry I have ever tried, I have never heard of a tayberry, but it sounds absolutely delicious.

We have an abundance of raspberry and blackberry bushes and every year I look forward to picking them. I enjoy eating them with ice cream, cereal, smoothies and even in a bowl by themselves. I always pick enough to make some jam and preserves too.

I imagine the tayberry fruit being a cross between these two favorite berries of mine would be something I would love to try.

By Monika — On Jul 15, 2011

@KaBoom - That's sad the plant died after only one summer of tayberries!

I'm not much of a gardener but I've been thinking about trying to grow some of these. I had a tayberry pie awhile back and it was scrumptious. However, since I lack a green thumb I think I may look around my local farmers markets first and see if I can find some for sale.

By KaBoom — On Jul 15, 2011

When I was growing up a lot of my neighbors, including my mother, loved to garden. My mom grew strawberries, tomatoes, and a lot of herbs, all of which were delicious.

One year one of our neighbors decided to grow tayberries. We had to wait a year for the fruit but it was so worth it. I don't really like blackberries much, but I do like raspberries. The tayberry was a perfect compromise!

Unfortunately the year after we had the tayberries we had a really bad winter and the plants died. Then my neighbor moved, and no one else was interested in growing these yummy berries.

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