Blackberry - Rubus "fruticosus"

Main features

  • Thick tangle of prickled branches

  • Leaves are palmate (leaflets radiate out from a single point)

  • White to pink flowers in summer

  • Segmented fruit or "blackberries" in summer to autumn

  • Found in a variety of locations including gardens, woodland, hedgerows, wasteground, roadsides, parks, and borders

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Blackberry - Rubus "fruticosus"

Edible plant - novice

Other common names: Bramble, Shrubby Blackberry, Brambleberry, English Blackberry, Bumblekites

 

Scientific name meaning: Rubus is from the Latin for "red" - Rubra. Fruticosus is also Latin in origin, from Fruticis, meaning "bushy or shruby". The reason the species name is in quotation marks is because it is an aggregate name. There are over 300 microspecies of Blackberry that are known of in the British Isles

Habitat - where will I find it? Blackberry is a very successful plant found in lots of places, including gardens, wasteground, woodland, hedgerows, roadsides and parks

Description - what does it look like? Blackberry presents as a mass of twisted of long prickled branches. 

The leaves are palmate - meaning the leaflets radiate out from a central point like a palm. 

White to pink flowers appear in spring and summer and are followed by segmented fruits 

Possible lookalikes Cloudberries, Dewberries, Stone Bramble, Raspberry. Loganberry and Tayberry could all be confused with Blackberry. However, none has palmate leaves and all are edible.

Before flowering, Blackberry could also be confused with scrambling rose species. However, these also do not have palmate leaves and produce hips rather than soft berry fruits

Use as a food The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and can be made into jams, jellies, syrups, vinegars, wines, liquours, pies, chutneys, cordials, fruit leathers, and puddings. 

The young leaves can be dried and made into a herbal infusion, while young shoots can be eaten raw

Use in herbal medicine Blackberry has been used to treat digestive and urinary tract disorders, sore throats, mouth ulcers, oral thrush, haemorrhoids, and wounds
If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Other uses A blue dye can be made from the fruit, while a cordage can be made from the stem fibre

Hazards Some people experience stomach upsets if they consume unripe fruit

Importance to other species The flowers are important to pollinators, and the fruit is a food source for birds. 

The structure of the plant provides shelter for nesting birds, and for mammals. Of note is their use by hedgehogs to protect them while they hibernate.

Blackberry are also very important in the growth of trees. They protect young saplings from grazing mammals. There is an old forester's saying: "The thorn is the mother of the Oak". This is in reference to Blackberry's protection

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!