How the pluot was born

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In the natural world, we depend on birds and bees to carry pollen from tree to tree to create new seeds of life. When two trees share the same species or genus, horticulturalists can cross them to produce hybrid varieties that arguably yield deeper flavors and more robust physical features than the original breeds. That’s how the pluot was born. When botanist Floyd Zaiger famously crossed a plum with a plumcot — a plumcot being a 50-50 hybrid of plum and apricot — a succulent fruit that looks like a plum but has the hardiness of an apricot was born. Zaiger called it a “pluot.”

Creating a tasty new fruit that consumers will get behind is no easy task. It takes years for experimental trees to bear fruit and even then there’s no guarantee the fruit will taste good. Most new hybrids taste sour and lack flavor. When breeders are lucky enough to get it right, hybrids like the Splash pluot are born.

If you’re in Santa Monica on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday this summer, you can stop by the Murray Family Farms stand to try 16 varieties of pluots along with many other hybrids of stone fruit, including apriums, plumcots, placatoms, peacotums and cherems. A gold star to anybody who can say those names fast. Bonus points for rattling off the family trees of these fruits!

Luke LA pastry chef Joy Cuevas likes pluots in her cobblers because they retain their vibrant hues even after being baked.

Joy Cuevas Pluot Cobbler
Pluot Cobbler (Photo courtesy of Luke LA) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)