Himalayan blackberries invasive species

Methods to control blackberry thickets

Nevertheless, with good timing and dedication, property owners can reduce a sprawling blackberry thicket to a few manageable stragglers.

Contrary to the notion that the blackberry is as native to Oregon as rain, this hardy relative of the rose was introduced by the famous Luther Burbank. The western European blackberry he introduced in 1885 as “Himalayan giant” has become a giant problem. A single blackberry cane can produce a thicket six yards square in less than two years and has choked out native vegetation from Northern California to British Columbia.

“Several control methods work well as long as anyone going to battle against blackberry vines is armed with the benefits and drawbacks of the most common methods,” Hulting said. He recommends an OSU Extension publication, “Managing Himalayan Blackberry in Western Oregon Riparian areas,” EM 8894. It is available online.

The publication, although specific to riparian areas, contains guidelines and precautions for chemical use. Listed here are suggested mechanical and biological methods.

Digging up or plowing under can eliminate existing plants but also create an ideal seedbed for the next generation of plants not completely killed by tillage. Planting a perennial such as grass in the area provides competition with new weed seedlings, and the soil surface is no longer disturbed to bring up new seeds. This is the best practice for long-term control.

Goats or mechanical mowing both work by removing the leaves so the plant can’t turn sunlight into food. The root eventually starves. Both goats and mowers must be brought back often, however, and both have the same drawback: They also mow down everything else in their path.

Another problem with goats is that they will eat only around the edges of a patch. “A lot of people find inventive ways to get goats to the center of the patch, such as mowing pathways or placing boards that goats can walk on or smashing down canes so the entire patch can be grazed,” Hulting said.

Effective herbicides are available and used to control blackberry throughout the year. Each has different use rates and application restrictions depending on the intended use area; always refer to the product label for specific instructions for use on blackberry. Specific herbicide use instructions for blackberry are summarized in the Control of Problem Weeds Chapter of the online version of the Pacific Northwest Weed Management handbook.

Contrary to some popular misinformation, it is usually best not to cut down blackberry plants prior to treatment with herbicides unless the plants are too big to reach with spray equipment, Hulting said. Cutting down the plant reduces the leaf area, and the plant may not take in enough herbicide to kill the large root.

No matter if you’ve grubbed, chopped or sprayed, after you’re rid of your blackberry plants, don’t forget to plant hardy alternative vegetation that can crowd or shade out new blackberry seedlings.

“You can’t treat a patch of blackberry and then walk away,” Hulting said. “The control methods can take several years, at least, to eradicate a large patch. Don’t take a break and let the blackberries regain their strength.”

How do I get rid of wild blackberry?

First, I don’t believe there’s a quick fix, solution, to successful removal of wild blackberries.

I suggest starting any of the below methods in mid Spring.

If you’re dealing with a small area (3 or 4 bushes at the most):

  • Cut everything down to about 12inches (300mm) above ground level.

  • Let the area regrow for 3 to 4 weeks.

  • Repeat the above couple of steps as many times as you can, three times being the absolute minimum.

  • Immediately after you’ve cut down for the last time, dig the bushes out, doing your very best to dig out as much of the root system as you can.

  • Then mechanically till the area. Remove any roots you see.

  • After that, go out once a week with a “sharp” hoe and remove any vegetation that has popped its head above the surface.

  • 4 weeks after tilling, mechanically till the area again. Remove any roots you see.

  • Again, go out once a week with a “sharp” hoe and remove any vegetation that has popped its head above the surface.

  • 4 weeks after the previous tilling, mechanically till the area one final time. Remove any roots you see.

  • Finally, go out once a week for the next 2 to 3 weeks with a “sharp” hoe and remove any vegetation that has popped its head above the surface.

  • The area should now be ready for wildflower seeds…

If you’re dealing with an area larger than “small area” (via “organic” herbicide):

  • Cut everything down to about 12inches (300mm) above ground level.

  • Let the area regrow for 3 to 4 weeks.

  • Repeat the above couple of steps as many times as you can, three times being the absolute minimum.

  • Immediately after you’ve cut down for the last time, spray the vegetation with — be sure to read and follow all the (safety) instructions:

    • High strength (20%) horticultural vinegar weed killer.

    • Or a product like Poison Ivy Defoliant.

  • Repeat the above spraying procedure once every 2 to 3 weeks for two further applications (minimum).

  • A couple of weeks after the final “spray” application, go out there and clear away everything you can see.

  • After that, go out once a week for the next month or so with a “sharp” hoe and remove any vegetation that has popped its head above the surface.

  • The area should now be ready for wildflower seeds, but before doing so, get a soil test done, this will inform you if you need to change the soil pH — the herbicide, especially such strong vinegar based ones will more than likely have made the soil very acidic.

If you’re dealing with an area larger than “small area” (via non-herbicide means):

  • Cut everything down to about 12inches (300mm) above ground level.

  • Let the area regrow for 3 to 4 weeks.

  • Repeat the above couple of steps as many times as you can, three times being the absolute minimum.

  • Immediately after you’ve cut down for the last time, dig the bushes out, doing your very best to dig out as much of the root system as you can.

  • Then mechanically till the area. Remove any roots you see.

  • After that, target the area via either:

    • Solarization.

    • Covering the ground with old carpet or thick brown cardboard or heavy-duty black plastic or… then bury that under a thick layer of mulch (6inches/150mm minimum).

      • Leave in place until the following Spring.
  • When using Solarization or Mulching as a method, extend the area 2 to 3 feet (600 to 900mm) all the way around past the last visible sign of the blackberry bushes, doing so will help prevent any underground roots that are left from working themselves out into the open, thus allowing the plant a means of survival.

  • After using either of those methods (Solarization or Mulching), the area should now be ready for wildflower seeds…

Good luck! and please report back the method you end up using and how successful or not it was…

By Julie Christensen

Robert McClosky’s classic children’s book, Blueberries for Sal, illustrates the simple pleasure of spending a day in the woods picking wild berries. Wild berries grow throughout the U.S. and, in most cases, are free for the taking. Pay attention to your surroundings and you may even find berries in urban areas, growing wild in parks and along trails. These delicious fruits are packed with phytochemicals and vitamin C. Wild berries are usually too tart to eat raw, but they’re delicious in sauces, wines and jams.

Before you go berry picking, you need to know a few tips:

  • Never eat a berry you can’t positively identify. Some poisonous berries look remarkably similar to wild edible berries. Grab a field guide with good illustrations or photos. Look not only at the berries, but at the leaves and twigs.
  • Know the area’s berry picking rules. In Washington, for example, you must stay in designated areas to pick huckleberries. There is also a limit on how many berries you can pick.
  • Go berry picking with a friend and take a cell phone with you. Chances are, you’ll have a pleasant, uneventful experience, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. While you’re at it, pack a map, a compass, snacks and extra water. Don’t forget mosquito repellent and sunscreen.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Watch out for quick drop-offs or holes in the ground. Keep your eyes open for bears hunting for berries too.
  • Free up your hands. You’ll move more quickly if you aren’t carrying buckets. Thread a small bucket through a belt and wear it around your waist. Bring along larger buckets or a cooler to hold berries on the way home.

Wild Bramble Berries

Blackberry. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll find blackberries growing abundantly alongside roadsides almost everywhere. Himalayan blackberries produce large, mild fruit and are often considered a weed. Evergreen blackberries ripen late in the season and are very seedy.

Raspberry. Wild raspberries grow throughout much of the U.S. They’re typically smaller with a more intense flavor than cultivated varieties.

Salmonberry These mild fruits are light orange in color. They are best eaten fresh and their flavor ranges from mildly sweet to almost bland.

Thimbleberry. These red berries are related to blackberries. Like salmonberries, they have a mild, bland flavor. Eat them out of hand.

Wild Round Berries

Bog cranberry. This low-lying shrub grows in moist, sandy areas. It produces red, tart fruit in the fall.

Chokecherry. Not actually a berry at all, but a type of wild cherry, chokecherries are usually thought of as berries because of their small size. The shrubs or trees grow throughout the U.S. and produce spikes of white flowers in the spring, followed by red, purple or black fruit. The fruit is tart, but makes delicious pancake syrup. The leaves, twigs and seeds are toxic.

Elderberry. Elderberry shrubs grow in most parts of the U.S. Wild elderberries produce clusters of small, round fruit. The fruit is purple, black or red. Pick elderberries when they’re ripe and cook them in jams, wines and syrups. Do not eat them raw, as they have been known to cause indigestion.

Huckleberry. Huckleberries resemble blueberries and can be eaten fresh, frozen or processed into jams and syrups. Huckleberries grow throughout the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the country. Toxic pokeberry grows in the same areas and resembles huckleberry. Pokeberry lacks the characteristic X on the blossom end of the fruit and its fruit is glossier.

Oregon grape. This woodland shrub grows wild throughout the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest. The purple fruits don’t taste good raw, but make excellent jam.

Serviceberry. Highly adaptable, serviceberries grow throughout most of the U.S. West and Midwest. These shrubby trees produce white flowers in the spring, followed by purple berries in the fall. The berries look and taste similar to blueberries.

To learn more about foraging for edible wild berries, visit the sites below:

  • Common Elderberry from the USDA Plant Guide
  • Foraging for Edible Wild Plants: A Field Guide to Wild Berries from Mother Earth News
  • Alderleaf Wilderness College has a guide to identifying edible wild berries correctly.
  • Wonderhowto.com has a good guide to both poisonous berries you should avoid, and edible berries you might find, with photos.

When she’s not writing about gardening, food and canning, Julie Christensen enjoys spending time in her gardens, which includes perennials, vegetables and fruit trees. She’s written hundreds of gardening articles for the Gardening Channel, Garden Guides and San Francisco Gate, as well as several e-books.

Wild About Native Blackberries

Credit: Richard Hebda

Trailing blackberries can be best described as living tripwires; that is, they are trailing woody vines to 6 m (20 ft.) long.

They arise from rather small woody roots that lead to long, arching, thin stems that scramble over whatever purchase they find. The vines often tangle into half-meter-deep (20 in.) masses over large areas. As with many blackberries, shoot tips root strongly in the fall, expanding the domain of the species. Well-toothed evergreen leaves of one to three leaflets are widely spaced along the stems. Slender prickles line the bluish stems and leaf stalks. These prickles are fine enough that they don’t gouge out chunks of flesh as does Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor), but I have learned well that they can lodge under the skin surface and cause minor irritation for several days. Hairy and prickly clusters of bright white flowers rise upwards from the horizontal stems. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants, an important point to keep in mind when growing trailing blackberries for fruit. Stamen-bearing male flowers are 2 to 4 cm (1 to 11/2 in.) wide with five narrow pointed petals.

The female flowers are slightly smaller, but their petals are wider. The shiny black fruit is an elongate blackberry about as big as the tip of your small finger. Flowers appear as early as April on south Vancouver Island and the sweet juicy fruits follow by mid-summer. Trailing blackberries thrive on disturbed sites such as old pastures and roadsides, growing well particularly after fire. They grow in and at the edge of shrubby thickets and in forest openings, too. They are one of the last native species to remain in sites where most native species have been removed through repeated clearing. In British Columbia these blackberries grow on Vancouver Island, on the adjacent mainland into the lower Fraser River Canyon and, notably, at a site in the Kootenays. The distribution range extends at low to middle elevations south to California and eastward to central Idaho.

Trailing blackberry found wide use among British Columbia’s coastal First Nations. Berries were eaten fresh or mashed for drying into cakes. Older red leaves, considered the most flavourful, were picked by some coastal peoples and boiled into a tasty tea. Medicine from leaves and roots treated ailments from dysentery to sores in the mouth. The vines supported and covered various types of food in steaming pits, and berry juice was used as a purple skin stain. Today, trailing blackberry leaves are used in several commercial herbal tea mixes. The plant’s most important contribution is as one of the parents of the delicious loganberry, which arose as a chance cross in Judge Logan’s garden in California.

In suitable coastal climates, blackberries are extremely easy to grow. Once established in a garden they may even need to be held in check. They are readily propagated from the rooted tips, which can be harvested and planted in moist fall and winter months. Choose a sunny to partly shaded, well-drained site and work the soil 10 cm (4 in.) deep. Plant your rooted stem cutting soon after digging it. Before selecting plants for propagation, note whether they are male or female and plant at least one male with the females. (If you are growing the plants for tea, the sex of the plant does not matter.) strongly suggest training the vines on a trellis or wires for ease of maintenance and harvest, and control of spread. Plants are easily propagated from seed, too, and if you grow other brambles in your garden, I can vouch that some delicious natural fruit crosses may result.

As well as being a great source of tea and wild fruit, the scrambling stems form excellent groundcover over eroding slopes and restrain human foot traffic. Food, drink, groundcover and easy to grow…one could hardly ask for more from a native species. The following plant is hardy to the zone number indicated: Rubus ursinus (trailing blackberry) – zones 5-6 An expert on native plants, Richard Hebda is curator of Botany and Earth History at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. Gardenwise Spring 2005

Early July is when my lips, fingers and hands may turn purple and my arms become covered with tiny scratches.

I’m talking about blackberry picking, which, for many of us, is a rite of summer. The first half of July is peak time for ripe, juicy wild blackberries in Georgia. They’re hanging heavy now on thorny vines growing in dense tangles — along roadsides, trails, fence rows, edges of woods and other sunny spots.

Risking bee stings, thorns and chiggers, I can’t resist plucking the inky-black morsels right off the vine and popping them into my mouth. If I can manage to bring some home, a delicious blackberry cobbler may be my reward.

Actually, my botanist friends tell me that some of the plants I call blackberries are really dewberries. The two plant types are close cousins, lumped in the same genus, Rubus. Both types bear white flowers in spring and, in summer, dark, purple berries that are similar in taste and appearance.

At least 20 wild Rubus species grow in Georgia, but not all are native. For instance, the Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), a native of Eurasia, is classified as an invasive species.

Some of Georgia’s common native blackberry species are the mountain blackberry (Rubus alleghaniensis); Southern blackberry (R. argustus); swamp blackberry (R. betulifolius); highbush blackberry (R. pensilvanicus); and sand blackberry (R. cuneifolius). Their berries may range from plump to long and narrow; tastes may range from sweet to tart.

Native dewberries include Southern running dewberry (R. trivialis) and common dewberry (R. flagellaris).

In general, blackberries grow on stiff, upright stems in dense tangles called brambles; dewberries may run along the ground like thorny vines.

Blackberries are valuable food for songbirds and other wildlife. The thick brambles also provide nesting sites, shelter and hiding places for many wild creatures.

IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be full tonight — the “Ripe Corn Moon” as the Cherokee people called July‘s full moon. Mercury is low in the west at dusk. Venus rises in the east a few hours before dawn. Jupiter is low in the west around sunset. Saturn rises in the east just before sunset.

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Beware thorn punctures; they can make you sick

Pruning roses, blackberries, pyracantha, bougainvillea and other thorny plants is a potentially hazardous gardening activity. The sharp thorns on these plants can cut and poke holes in your skin, and the small wounds provide an entry point for pathogenic organisms. This need not keep you from growing thorny plants if you take some simple precautions.

Gardens are full of microbes. Most are benign but a few can be harmful. Having healthy, unbroken skin is your first line of defense against infection.

The best way to protect your skin while pruning is by wearing protective clothing such as gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and shoes that cover your feet. Depending on the situation, you should also wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes and a dust mask or respirator to protect your lungs from airborne particles.

Each year some people in the county usually get sporotrichosis, also known as rose thorn or rose gardener disease. It results from infection by the fungus Sporothrix schenckii and related species that are present in soil and on living and dead plant material. People who handle thorny plants, sphagnum moss or bales of hay are at increased risk of getting sporotrichosis.


The fungal disease usually affects the skin on the fingers, hands or arms. Rare forms can also affect the lungs, joints, bones and even the brain. Infection is more common among people with a weakened immune system but can also occur in otherwise healthy people.

Wear sturdy gloves to protect your skin when pruning roses and other thorny plants. ( / Getty Images)

The first symptoms of sporotrichosis usually appear one to 10 weeks after the initial exposure to the fungus. Cutaneous or skin infections are the most common form of the disease and occur when spores enter the body through small cuts, punctures or other breaks in the skin. Symptoms include nodular lesions or bumps in the skin at the point of entry and along lymphatic channels.

The lesion starts out small and painless and ranges in color from pink to purple. Left untreated, the lesion becomes larger and looks similar to a boil. More lesions can appear until a chronic ulcer develops.


Individuals who may have sporotrichosis should seek medical care. Skin infections are diagnosed by sending a swab or biopsy to a lab for fungal culture. Infection can be treated with antifungal medication.

Fall cleanup

Good sanitation practices should be employed in a garden throughout the year to help control certain pests and diseases. A cleanup now as winter approaches can help prevent infestations next year.

If you have fruit trees, dispose of fruit that has fallen on the ground and any fruit on trees that is overripe, damaged or decayed and dried out (called “mummies”). Place the fruit in a plastic bag and dispose of it in the trash. Fruit placed in a compost pile can attract vertebrate pests. Also, insects of diseases the fruit may contain will not be killed unless the compost pile heats up to a temperature of 140-160 F.

The African fig fly (Zaprionus indianus) detected for the first time this year in Los Angeles and San Diego counties could become a troublesome pest of figs. The adult fly often lays eggs around the small opening at the bottom of edible figs, and larvae enter the fruit. If you find small, cylindrical white larvae in figs, submit a sample to the county agriculture department for identification. The fly also lays eggs on overripe and damaged fruit of many hosts, including avocado, citrus, berries, grape, loquat, guava, peach, persimmon and other fruit.

Lazaneo is an urban horticulture adviser emeritus with the University of California Cooperative Extension.

Native Plant Society: Blackberries: The good, the bad and the thorny


The seasons mark the passing of the year for many, but for me they mark the anticipation of the next fruit collection.

Late spring bears apricots and strawberries; summer peaches lead to autumn apples and pomegranates; winter sheds citrus. The summer months are a favorite for fruits and I have fond memories of picking blackberries to be made into tarts and pies, or enjoyed fresh off the vine.

Once school was out, those hot and sunny afternoons were spent next to creeks, basking in the water and grazing on blackberries, taking care to avoid the prickles. It wouldn’t be until years later that I realized those juicy berries were from a plant that some consider a plague. As part of the rose family, Rosaceae, blackberries can literally be a thorn in one’s side.

California’s native blackberry, Rubus ursinus, also known as Pacific blackberry, has been overtaken rapidly by the Himalayan blackberry, Rubus armeniacus. Despite its name, this introduced shrub is from western Europe and has made itself at home here; most of the blackberry encountered in Shasta County is non-native. Though it is unknown how the species was first brought to North America, it is likely it was a cultivar that escaped, as is the case with many well-established non-native flora. I have yet to encounter any native blackberry thickets in the area, and people familiar with the plant can recall only a few prominent patches located in remote areas.

At first glance, the two plants look nearly the same, both with usually white flowers, and leaves with serrated edges sprouting along thorny stems. However, upon taking a closer look, you will notice the differences between the shapes of their leaves and the petals of their flowers.

The leaves of the Himalayan species are more cordate, or heart shaped, with more finely serrated edges than those of the Pacific variety, which has more grooves. The five petals of the Himalayan blackberry are generally fuller and wider than the Pacific blackberry, and the thorns are more abundant on the non-native. Though the blooming and fruiting periods of both plants overlap, the Himalayan starts later in April and fruiting can extend from July to September.

Blackberry stems, known as canes, can grow upward to about 15 feet (4.6 meters), and trail across the ground up to 40 feet (12.2 meters). Drooping canes can root at the nodes when they touch the ground, making a nearly impenetrable wall of tangled thorns when grown out. While many plants lie dormant during the winter months, the Himalayan blackberry stands out like a giant mass of green and reddish leaves with its weaving, giant, thorny arms daring you to cross it. This is great for those smaller creatures seeking protection but, for the rest of us, it is a major deterrent to pass through. I have ripped many shirts (now designated “blackberry” attire) by reaching into the brambly thickets.

Though the Himalayan blackberry is now considered to be a mainstay and a naturalized species, it still should be managed. Due to its robust nature, it grows large and spreads rapidly, shading out many other understory plants, such as saplings of Douglas fir and ponderosa pine. It can invade almost any open space, such as oak woodlands, meadows and roadsides, and it thrives in riparian areas or wetlands, decreasing ecological diversity. It can clog up water flows in creeks, which can cause major problems during heavy rain. If left alone, it can wreak havoc.

There are various control methods that can be used, from herbicides to grazing to trimming. Due to the plant’s proclivity for wetland and riparian areas, herbicides should be carefully used, especially when in close proximity to water. Grazing and trimming may not completely eradicate the plant since these methods do not stop the formation of adventitious roots; the plant can grow roots easily from its stems. Burning plant clippings and digging up the roots are tedious but probably the most effective method to control the plant.

Dealing with the Himalayan blackberry is difficult from a physical and ethical point of view. The large mound of vines can appear quite pretty when the plant is in bloom, with all its white flowers set amidst the green foliage. It provides a feast of delicious fruit in the summer and it provides some habitat; however, it also disrupts the balance and function of the environment it occupies if left unchecked. Thickets that have been thinned can grow back with a vengeance if not maintained, preventing other plants from establishing and reducing the diversity of both flora and fauna. Attempts to control it may seem futile, but there is hope if regularly maintained. And, of course, there’s the bounty to collect in the late summer as reward for your work.

Native Plants runs the first Saturday of the month in the Home & Garden Section. Articles are provided by members of the Shasta Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. For more, go towww.shastacnps.org.

Of course, as with any innovative movement, there are some drawbacks. Don’t expect Billy and his friends to know a thing about landscape design; they will eat what and where they wish to eat until their entire habitat is cleared. Trimmed lawns with edged walks are not exactly in their repertoire.

You will also need more than one goat for the task. It might seem generous to help the little ruminants avoid food competition, but goats are social animals and can be lonely without a herd. If you’re planning on clearing large portions of lands, a herd of 30 goats is not unusual; for a backyard, a smaller herd is fine.

While goats can stomach a lot, there are some plants that are toxic to them. These will need to be cleared first, before the herd is left to graze. Additionally, all goats can eat blackberry bushes without harm, but long-haired varieties might get tangled in the thorny brush.

Finally, renting goats to clear blackberries is a popular service in the Pacific Northwest, where such brambles are overly prolific. Depending upon where you live, however, you will want to check with city and state ordinances — or your applicable homeowners association — before bringing goats into the neighborhood.

Wild blackberries can be tamed and enjoyed

Wild berries are ripening across America, and the race is on among man and animals, birds and insects, to see who will get theirs first.

Blackberries are the largest and most recognizable of the wild fruits. They are easy pickings from thickets along quiet roadsides, from shrubs in sunny meadows, growing across mountain faces and paralleling seashores from Texas to British Columbia.

For people who respect property rights, wild blackberries generally are free for the taking. But that doesn’t mean you won’t pay a price if you aren’t wearing the proper uniform – long pants, long-sleeved shirt and boots. Be prepared for chigger and mosquito bites, skin rashes from poison ivy or sting nettles, scratches and shredded clothing from the thorny canes and the potential for Lyme disease from infected deer ticks.

Despite all that, berries have become the darlings of the fresh fruit industry, says Matt Ernst, an extension associate with the University of Kentucky department of agricultural economics.

“Health benefits, particularly the antioxidant levels, and the fact that they just plain taste good have consumers of all ages eating berries at unprecedented rates,” Ernst says. “Blackberries especially appeal to our sense of nostalgia; many Americans still remember picking wild blackberries at some point in their lifetime.”

Wild blackberries are a delicious but delicate crop, a favorite food of man and animals. Pick the berries as they ripen on the canes, are soft to the touch and almost ready to fall into your hand. Berries with any red still in them are acidic and will taste tart. Leave them for another day.

Aside from seeking blackberries in the wild, people are growing them in their gardens, gathering them from commercial pick-your-own operations or buying them hand-harvested and fresh from the field at farmer’s markets.

“Some Kentucky farmers are planting and marketing blackberries locally as an alternative crop in the wake of declining burley tobacco production,” Ernst says.

Creating new varieties

More than 2,000 varieties of blackberries are believed growing across the Northern Hemisphere. Loganberries (a blackberry/raspberry hybrid), boysenberries, thimbleberries and marionberries are among the most common of the wild berry siblings. Blackberries often are confused with raspberries, their domestic cousins, but there are some differences. Perhaps the easiest way to tell them apart is that blackberries, when picked, come with a core attached, while raspberries are hollow.

Plant breeders are building on what nature has so abundantly provided by producing hardier varieties, larger and sweeter berries and friendlier or thornless plants. “New cultivars released by the University of Arkansas and others over the past decade or so have especially caught the eye of many producers and the palate of many consumers,” Ernst says. That includes the Cherokee, Comanche and Cheyenne varieties (with thorns); the Apache, Arapaho and Ouachita, among others, which grow thornless.

Keeping fruit fresh

Blackberries are delicate and highly perishable. Here are a few tips for preventing spoilage:

¢ “Wait to do your picking until the berries are ready to almost fall off into your hand,” says John Strang, a fruit and vegetable crops extension professor with the University of Kentucky. “If you pull a berry off the bush with some red in it, it will be pretty acidic. It will taste sour.”

¢ Pick blackberries in the morning before the temperatures rise and while the fruit is still firm. Don’t wash them until just before they’re served.

¢ The sooner berries are refrigerated, the longer they’ll last. “They’re black; they absorb sunlight very quickly,” Strang says. “Unlike many other garden products, they won’t get any sweeter or riper once they’re off the bush. They’re at their highest quality when you pick them.”

¢ Spread the berries around in shallow, airtight containers so they aren’t bruised or crushed beneath their own weight.

The University of Arkansas introduced two hardy new plants this year for temperature-sensitive areas, which up to now had limited the spread of blackberry production. Blackberry plants generally don’t fruit until their second year. Extreme cold routinely kills unprotected first-year canes if they over-winter in harsh conditions.

The new Prime Jan and Prime Jim varieties produce fruit in their first growing season, allowing blackberries to be gathered anywhere the summers are long enough for the plants to mature.

Growing your own

Having the new cultivars available doesn’t mean you can’t transplant canes from a favorite stand of wild plants. But that would come with some large horticultural red flags attached, not the least of which are the threat of disease and the plant’s invasive tendencies.

“Cultivating and propagating wild blackberries is not usually recommended because of disease (and) virus problems inherent to wild stock,” Ernst says. “In fact, it is always recommended that the home gardener or farmer eliminate nearby wild brambles before establishing a blackberry or raspberry planting.

“Proper soil drainage and site preparation, as well as a trellis or other means of allowing good circulation to the canes, are also important for establishing blackberries.”

Training plants to grow on trellises, walls and fences or row cropping the blackberry patch also helps maintain some control. Blackberries are capable of growing 9 or 10 feet tall, eventually becoming an impenetrable tangle of sharp, thorny canes. You can thin much of that unwanted growth by running a tiller between the rows, pruning the plants aggressively or eliminating emerging new canes. Ignore them at your peril.

It doesn’t take many blackberry plants to satisfy an entire family. Yields can range from one-half gallon to two-and-one-half gallons per plant. That makes for a lot of freezing and canning – flavorful jams and jellies, pies and cobblers. Or, simplest and perhaps most enjoyable of all, you can eat the berries fresh, dappled with cream and sugar. Learn to ignore the seeds.

Can dogs eat blackberries?

Foods healthy for humans are often good nutrition sources for pets, too. Most fresh fruits, for example, are excellent treats for our canine companions. But remember, the digestive systems of animals are different than ours, so we must be careful to avoid human foods that may be toxic or cause gastrointestinal upset in pets.

It’s common knowledge that our furry friends should avoid grapes and raisins, but what about berries? Are blackberries, in particular, safe for your pet? Let’s find out if giving blackberries to your dog is a smart move.

What are the health benefits of blackberries for dogs?

People enjoy these sweet, juicy berries, which pack a ton of health benefits into a tiny package. And dogs love them, as well. Blackberries are chock-full of nutritional perks good for both humans and dogs, including:

  • Anthocyanins, an antioxidant found in purple, blue, or red foods, fight free radicals and may provide health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects, reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, and improved brain function.

  • Low sugar content should be mandatory with every dog treat. Berries are lower in sugar content than other fruits and are an excellent choice for your pup.

  • Fiber can help with gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation or diarrhea. It can also make your pet feel full, which may help reduce her whining for more food when you’re trying to help her lose a few pounds.

  • Vitamins are useful for many reasons. Blackberries are loaded with vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, and help support the following:

    • Building the immune system

    • Synthesizing hormones

    • Activating enzymes

    • Metabolizing food

    • Encouraging growth

    • Reducing inflammation

    • Increasing energy levels

  • Omega-3 fatty acids are the backbone for a shiny coat, healthy skin, and strong teeth.

Although blackberries pack a powerful nutritional punch, they should be enjoyed by your dog in moderation. Even nutrient-rich treats should never account for more than 10 percent of your dog’s total daily calorie intake.

Are there dangers associated with blackberries and dogs?

While blackberries are safe for dogs, eating too many can cause adverse effects, such as:

  • Diarrhea

  • Gastrointestinal upset

  • Vomiting

Also, blackberries contain a minuscule amount of the substitute sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. While your pet would have to eat a massive quantity of blackberries to be poisoned, you should limit your dog to a small handful of blackberries a day to be safe.

What are alternatives to blackberries for dogs?

If your dog isn’t a blackberry fan, switch to another berry, or choose a different fruit or vegetable. These berries are also safe for dogs:

  • Strawberries

  • Blueberries

  • Raspberries

  • Cranberries

A deeper look at raspberries

Raspberries are one of the fruits with the highest amount of naturally occurring xylitol. There are 0.05 g of xylitol in 1 cup of raspberries. This means that in order to eat enough raspberries to cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) a 10kg dog would have to eat 4-6 cups of raspberries. To eat enough raspberries to be fatal, that same dog would have to eat at least 32 cups of raspberries!

Berries your dog should NOT eat

Avoid feeding your dog the following berries, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, seizures, or trouble breathing:

  • Mistletoe berries

  • Gooseberries

  • Salmonberries

  • Holly berries

  • Baneberries

  • Pokeberries

  • Juniper berries

  • Dogwood berries

Always avoid wild berries, which typically are toxic to pets, and stay safe with berries that are also safe for people (including not spoiled or rancid) and are found in supermarkets.

How to add blackberries to a dog’s diet

Now that you know all the nutritional benefits packed into these tiny berries, you may want to add them to your dog’s menu. Freeze a few blackberries for a chilled treat. Stuff a Kong toy with a mixture of several blackberries in plain, low-fat yogurt, and freeze the toy overnight. Or, get creative in the kitchen and try out this tasty recipe from PetGuide.com’s editor, Amy Tokic:

Berry wholesome dog treats

Makes 40 to 50 treats


  • 2 cups assorted berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries

  • 1 small banana

  • ½ cup almond milk

  • 1 cup oat flour

  • ½ cup oats

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour


  1. In a food processor or blender, add the banana, berries, and milk, and puree until smooth.

  2. Add flours and oats in a large bowl. Mix until combined.

  3. Add the berry and banana mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir thoroughly.

  4. Place a small ball of dough on the counter. Spray a rolling pin with cooking spray to prevent dough from sticking. Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness. Cut into treats with a cookie cutter and place on cookie sheets covered in parchment paper.

  5. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes.

  6. Allow treats to cool completely before serving to your pooch.


Blackberry, usually prickly fruit-bearing bush of the genus Rubus of the rose family (Rosaceae), known for its dark edible fruits. Native chiefly to north temperate regions, wild blackberries are particularly abundant in eastern North America and on the Pacific coast of that continent and are cultivated in many areas of North America and Europe. Blackberries are a fairly good source of iron, vitamin C, and antioxidants and are generally eaten fresh, in preserves, or in baked goods such as cobblers and pies.

  • Blackberry (Rubus).Derek Fell
  • blackberry flowerFlowers of a wild blackberry (Rubus plicatus). llhoward—iStock/Thinkstock

Closely related to raspberries (also in the Rubus genus), blackberry plants have biennial canes (stems) covered with prickles and grow erect, semierect, or with trailing stems. The compound leaves usually feature three or five oval, coarsely toothed, stalked leaflets, many of which persist through the winter. Borne on terminal clusters, the flowers are white, pink, or red and produce black or red-purple fruits. Though commonly called berries, the fruits of Rubus species are technically aggregates of drupelets. Unlike the hollow fruits of raspberries, the drupelets of blackberries remain attached to a juicy white core, thus distinguishing the two.

There are tens of thousands of blackberry hybrids and segregates of various types, the thornless blackberry being a modern development. Several species, notably the cutleaf, or evergreen, blackberry (R. laciniatus) and the Himalayan blackberry (R. armeniacus), are invasive species that spread rapidly by animal-mediated seed dispersal and vegetative reproduction. At least two South American Rubus species are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Blackberries: Origins – Consumption – Nutrition Facts – Health Benefits


  • Geographic origin and regions grown
  • History of consumption
  • Common consumption today
  • Nutrition Facts: Vitamins, minerals and phytochemical components
  • Health Benefits: Medicinal uses based on scientific studies
  • Bibliography

Geographic Origins and Regions Grown

The blackberry (also known as bramble or occasionally “bramble raspberry”) is well known worldwide. There are numerous subtypes of blackberries and the majority are found in the cooler or temperate climates of the Northern hemisphere. Blackberries are mostly found in North America and Canada. Other places where the berry can be located include Great Britain, New Zealand, Chile, and most of the European and Mediterranean countries.

History of Consumption

According to botanists, the blackberry is not an actual berry, but is instead an aggregate fruit that has numerous drupelets that ripen into black or dark purple fruits. Blackberries have been consumed for centuries by humans, mainly by North Americans and Europeans (2). However, recent statistics indicate that the quest for the fruit appears to be increasing worldwide.

The fruit is often combined with salads and fruit desserts. However, in places like Chile, New Zealand, and some parts of North America certain species of the blackberry, particularly Rubus armeniacus and Rubus laciniatus, are considered to be a major weed problem that hampers agriculture (7).

Common Consumption Today

The blackberry is a soft and tender fruit that is typically used to make desserts, jams, jellies, and even wines. The fruit is also popular with bees because it produces sweet nectar that makes a medium to dark, fruity honey.

There are wild blackberries growing throughout North America, but it is not recommended that one collect or consume them. The reason for this is that these blackberries are often contaminated by road side oil spills or other toxins from the traffic as well as large amounts of pesticides and insecticides (5).

Nutrition Facts: Vitamins, Minerals and Phytochemical Components

Blackberries contain several polyphenol antioxidants like tannins (gallic acid) and phenylpropanoids (lignins and flavonoids). These antioxidants are known to protect the human body against a variety of oxidizing agents that can cause neurodegenerative diseases and cardiovascular diseases (1). Other flavonoids in the blackberry are well known as regulators of enzymes that rid the body of toxins. A table of nutrients can be found on the following link…

Blackberries Nutrition Facts

Health Benefits: Medicinal Uses Based on Scientific Studies

The blackberry root is often used an astringent to treat severe diarrhea and dysentery, which is a severe form of diarrhea that presents blood in the stool, severe cramping, and tenesmus (painful straining) (6). Some researchers claim that the juice extracts of the fruit can be used an herbal medicine to protection the skin from infections and reduce premature aging of the skin (4).

Other studies performed on several herbal teas, including shrubby blackberry tea, concluded that their phenolic compounds and antioxidants are a beneficial addition to the diet of type 2 diabetics. The antioxidants prevent the development of vascular diseases that often occur in type 2 diabetic patients (3).


2. Blamey M, Grey-Wilson, C. (1989) The Illustrated Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. Hodder and Stoughton.

3. Bueyuekbalci A, El SN, (2008) Determination of in vitro antidiabetic effects, antioxidant activities and phenol contents of some herbal teas. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2008 Jan 9.

4. Dai J, Patel JD, Mumper RJ. (2007) Characterization of blackberry extract and its antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory properties. Journal of Medicinal Food, 10(2):258-65.

6. Grieve, M. (1971) A Modern Herbal: The medicinal, culinary, cosmetic and economic properties, cultivation and folklore of herbs, grasses, fungi, shrubs, and trees with all their modern scientific uses. Dover Publications.

7. Huxley A, Griffiths M, Levy M. (1992) New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan Press.


Nutritiousfruit.com provides this website as a service. Although the information contained within the website is periodically updated, no guarantee is given that the information provided is correct, complete, and/or up-to-date. The materials contained on this website are provided for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal or other professional advice on any subject matter. Nutrtiousfruit.com does not accept any responsibility for any loss, which may arise from reliance on information contained on this website. The information and references in this website are intended solely for the general information for the reader. The content of this website are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or to be used for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications.

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