Blackberry: Plant profile
Blackberry, Bramble, Brambleberry, Shrubby Blackberry, Dris, Sméar Dubh (IE), Mora (SP)
Rubus fruticosus agg.
Blackberry is native to Europe and naturalised elsewhere.Abundant in the UK and Ireland.
Where to find Blackberries
A very common and adaptable plant, Blackberries grow on woodland, hedgerow,wasteland, parks and roadsides.
When to find Blackberries
Forage leaves late spring to early summer and berries late summer to early autumn.
How to identify Bramble
This shrub forms a thicket of long trailing prickled branches. It has toothed leaves, which are green when young and eventually turn reddish-purple at the end of the season. Flowers are five-petalled and white to pink in colour. The fruits are round berries made of drupelets that turn from green to red to deep-purple black when ripe.
Dewberry, Stone Bramble, Loganberry, Tayberry and Raspberry could all be confused with Blackberry, but most of them do not usually grow in the wild and are all edible regardless.
All about Blackberry
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 back 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.
Medicinal properties of Blackberry
The root bark and leaves are astringent and diuretic. Young leaves also make a lovely tea rich in vitamin C.
Blackberries are also high in vitamin C and phenolic compounds, which are known to be antiviral and antibacterial. Some varieties of have more dietary fibre than wholemeal bread.
Culinary uses and recipes with Blackberries
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 all kinds of preserves, tarts and pies. They also make good fruity chutneys and sauces for game.
In addition, Blackberries make good cordial, fantastic country wine and nice infused liqueurs.
Safe foraging of Blackberries
The stems are extremely thorny and you may hurt yourself when walking around Bramble.
Ecological importance of Bramble
The flowers are important to pollinating insects and are a food source for honeybees and bumblebees, while the leaves are eaten by certain caterpillars and some grazing mammals, such as deer. Blackberries are eaten by small birds and a number of mammals such as fox and badger, who disperse seeds.
The structure of the Bramble makes it a perfect habitat that provides shelter for nesting birds, grass snakes and hedgehogs.