Common name: Blackberry, bramble
Botanical name: Rubus fruticosus agg.
Family: Rosaceae (Rose)
Worldwide distribution: Native to Europe and naturalised elsewhere.
Local distribution: Abundant in the UK and Ireland.
Habitat: Woodland, hedgerows, roadsides and wasteland.
Season: Leaves late spring to early summer and berries late summer to early autumn.
Blackberries are one of those edible plants that are universally and instantly recognised. This untidy sprawling shrub produces abundant and delicious fruit, well appreciated amongst foragers.
Blackberry picking used to be a popular childhood pastime to do with the family and indeed many of us were introduced into foraging this way. We’d go to the countryside and fill baskets of berries to be enjoyed in preserves and puddings at home.
Bramble blossom appears as early as May, followed by lusciously sweet berries that are ready to pick in late summer. Legend has it that on the previous evening of Michaelmas Day, at the end of October, the Devil spits every bush and berries are ruined. Certainly, the damp weather and night frosts will have deteriorated the berries by then.
There is so much you can do with blackberries. They are delicious eaten alone on top of yoghurt and ice-cream, but can be used to make preserves, tarts and pies. They also make fruity sauces ideal for game and fantastic country wines and infused liqueurs.
Young leaves make a lovely tea rich in vitamin C. Blackberries are high in phenolic compounds, which are known to be antiviral and antibacterial.