New Breed of Strawberry Is Deep Purple

The new breed of Purple Wonder strawberry is shown on the left, next to a conventional variety called the Jewel.
The new breed of Purple Wonder strawberry is shown on the left, next to a conventional variety called the Jewel. (Image credit: W. Atlee Burpee & Co)

Scientists aren't content to let nature rest on its laurels when it comes to the strawberry.

Cornell University horticulturists have announced that they've bred a new type of strawberry called the Purple Wonder designed to stun with both its taste and its color — a deep burgundy.

"Purple Wonder is sweet and aromatic, with outstanding strawberry flavor," Courtney Weber, a small fruits breeder and associate professor of horticulture at Cornell, said in a statement. "But the color is something you won't be able to find in any grocery store."

"The color develops all the way through the fruit, which might surprise consumers accustomed to supermarket fruit with color mostly on the surface," Weber said. "And letting the fruit ripen on the plant just makes the berries sweeter."

The medium-sized berries start off creamy-white and then turn red before deepening into their dark purple hue.

The new fruit will be unveiled at the Philadelphia International Flower Show on Monday (March 5). Cornell has an exclusive licensing agreement with seed company W. Atlee Burpee Co. to sell Purple Wonder seeds.

The company plans to market the fruit to home gardeners who keep a plot in their backyard or some pots on their fire escape. Purple Wonder's lack of many runners (horizontal shoots that produce new plant sprouts) makes it ideal for container growing, its makers say. Plus, its high antioxidant content makes it a health booster.

The fruit is bred to be hardy enough to fare well across most of the temperate United States, resist disease and insects, and most of all, to taste great, Weber said.

"Let's face it: Berries often get eaten on the way home from the farmers' market," he said.

Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.

Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.