There is literature online that says that all alpine varieties are the same. From someone who has been working with varieties of this species I can tell you that there are distint differences between varieties. First, there are varieties that produce red, white or yellow fruit. These obviously aren’t the same.
When you’re talking about red fruiting varieties, there is some “sameness” or similarities. Some of this is due to the fact that the varieties are bred. I don’t know of a breeder that is breeding alpine varieties, though it is possible that this is going on especially in Europe. The varieties that we have are selections. Someone noted a different plant or different characteristic in a plant and selected it. They worked with it and propagated it. It eventually became a cultivar or variety.
One obvious questions is: how many varieties are there? I have to admit that I don’t know. Over the years I have collected over 30 varieties with different names. There is one variety that I don’t have and can’t find. It was sold years ago as ‘Charles V’. I kick myself frequently that I didn’t buy it. Is it lost? This brings up the question of whether these varieties will be lost if we don’t try to keep them going.