Economic Botany

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 51-62

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The Evolution of Fruit Tree Productivity: A Review

  • Eliezer E. GoldschmidtAffiliated withInstitute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Email author 


The Evolution of Fruit Tree Productivity: A Review. Domestication of fruit trees has received far less attention than that of annual crop plants. In particular, very little is known about the evolution of fruit tree productivity. In the wild, most tree species reach reproductive maturity after a long period of juvenility and even then, sexual reproduction appears sporadically, often in a mode of masting. Environmental constraints limit trees’ reproductive activity in their natural, wild habitats, resulting in poor, irregular productivity. Early fructification and regular, high rates of productivity have been selected by people, unconsciously and consciously. The reviewed evidence indicates an evolutionary continuum of productivity patterns among trees of wild habitats, intermediary domesticates, and the most advanced domesticates. Alternate bearing appears to represent an intermediate step in the fruit tree evolutionary pathway. The existence of a molecular, genetic mechanism that controls trees’ sexual reproduction and fruiting pattern is suggested.

Key Words

Alternate bearing domestication masting sexual reproduction unconscious selection


果树结果能力的演化:综述. 与一年生农作物相比,对多年生果树作物的驯化一直来很少受到关注。尤其是我们对果树结果能力的进化知之甚少。大多数野生果树需要经过相当长的营养生长阶段才能达到生殖成熟;即使进入了生殖生长期,部分果树的有性繁殖也是不连续的,通常表现为大量结果。环境因素限制了树木在自然或野生环境下的生殖活动,导致结果能力差且不规律。人类则有意识和无意识地选择了早产、有规律和高产等性状。本综述提供证据表明果树结果能力在野生种、中间驯化种和已驯化种之间存在进化连续性,大小年现象似乎是进化过程中的一个中间步骤。因此,果树间存在一种调控果树有性繁殖和结果模式的遗传机制。