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Category: Fresh and Dried Fruit

Waldviertler Kriecherl Plum

Austria

Waldviertler Kriecherl


The Kriecherl is a plum variety that is often referred to as "primitive" due to its tendency to grow without any cultivation in natural sites such as embankments, bushes and forests, and due to its numerous characteristics that are reminiscent of wild fruits. The history of its cultivation dates back to Neolithic times; the Kriecherl is probably the oldest crop plant in the border region between Lower Austria and Southern Moravia. Although the term "Kriecherl" is relatively well established in Austria, it is often incorrectly applied to the similar, more widely known cherry plum/ myrobalan (Prunus cerasifera). The confusion between the two species has led to the decreased knowledge of the Kriecherl.


Kriecherl plums are mostly rare in Austria, with the exception of the central Waldviertel in the Northern region of Lower Austria. Formerly a widely distributed fruit species, it has become less well known due to the time-consuming harvesting process and its limited storage life along with changing eating habits. The most commonly found Kriecherl form in the Waldviertel is a greenish yellow colour, oval in form, with a delicious taste and aroma. As opposed to other fruit species, where clearly designated varieties have individual characteristics, the Kriecherl "family" is much more colourful and varied. The Waldviertler Kriecherl is therefore not a uniform variety, but rather an explosion of forms that reflects its rich plant heritage.
Kriecherl trees do not live for very long; they are often senescent after 50 years. They do not die suddenly, but develop "root sprouts" which, if not dealt with in time, lead to dense, multiple-shoot Kriecherl bushes that considerably complicate harvesting. As Kriecherl is a wild fruit variety, it requires no grafting and it is sufficient to plant a seed, yielding 95% genetic stability, i.e. the characteristics of the sapling are only minimally different from those of the mother tree. Another strategy is to dig out a root sprout to grow Kriecherl, which produces a sapling that is 100% genetically identical.


Kriecherl are collected from the ground. They only reach ripeness and gain their full flavour a few days before they drop. For this reason, as well as their limited storage life, they are collected almost daily rather than through shaking the tree. Kriecherl cannot be picked prematurely because they simply rot instead of ripening post-harvest. Traditionally, Kriecherl plums are used to make juice, marmalade and schnapps. Kriecherl are directly marketed by many farmers, particularly organic farmers. Between 30,000 - 60,000 kg of Kriecherl are cultivated every year.


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