AskDefine | Define blackberry

Dictionary Definition



1 large sweet black or very dark purple edible aggregate fruit of any of various bushes of the genus Rubus
2 bramble with sweet edible black or dark purple berries that usually do not separate from the receptacle [syn: blackberry bush] v : pick or gather blackberries; "The children went blackberrying" [also: blackberried]

User Contributed Dictionary

see BlackBerry




  1. A fruit-bearing shrub of the genus Rubus.
  2. The soft fruit borne by this shrub, formed of a black (when ripe) cluster of drupelets.
  3. In some parts of England, the black currant.


Derived terms


black currant

Extensive Definition

The blackberries (singular, blackberry; genus Rubus, subgenus Eubatus; also called bramble or occasionally "bramble raspberry") are a widespread and well known group of several hundred species, a number of which are closely related apomictic microspecies, native throughout the temperate Northern hemisphere.
They are perennial plants which typically bear biennial stems ("canes") from the perennial root system. In its first year, a new stem grows vigorously to its full length of 3-6 m, arching or trailing along the ground and bearing large palmately compound leaves with five or seven leaflets; it does not produce any flowers. In its second year, the stem does not grow longer, but the flower buds break to produce flowering laterals, which bear smaller leaves with three or five leaflets. First and second year shoots are usually spiny, usually with numerous short curved very sharp spines (spineless plants also occur). The flowers are produced in late spring and early summer on short racemes on the tips of the flowering laterals. Each flower is about 2-3 cm in diameter with five white or pale pink petals. The newly developed primocane fruiting blackberries flower and fruit on the new growth. The fruit, in botanical terminology, is not a berry, but an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets ripening to a black or dark purple fruit, the "blackberry". Unmanaged mature plants form a tangle of dense arching stems, the branches rooting from the node tip when they reach the ground. They are very vigorous, growing at fast rates in woods, scrub, hillsides and hedgerows, covering large areas in a relatively short time. It will tolerate poor soil, and is an early colonist of wasteland and building sites.
The early flowers often form more drupelets than the later ones. This can be a symptom of exhausted reserves in the plant's roots, marginal pollinator populations, or infection with a virus such as Raspberry bushy dwarf virus (RBDV). Even a small change in conditions, such as a rainy day or a day too hot for bees to work after early morning, can reduce the number of bee visits to the flower, thus reducing the quality of the fruit. The drupelets only develop around ovules that are fertilized by the male gamete from a pollen grain.
Blackberry leaves are also a food for certain Lepidoptera caterpillars. See List of Lepidoptera that feed on Rubus

Cultivation and uses

The soft fruit is popular for use in desserts, jams, seedless jellies and sometimes wine. Since the many species form hybrids easily, there are many cultivars with more than one species in their ancestry.
Blackberry flowers are good nectar producers, and large areas of wild blackberries will yield a medium to dark, fruity honey.
The blackberry is known to contain polyphenol antioxidants, naturally occurring chemicals that can upregulate certain beneficial metabolic processes in mammals. It is not advisable to use or eat blackberries growing close to busy roads due to the accumulated toxins from the traffic. The astringent blackberry root is sometimes used in herbal medicine as a treatment for diarrhea and dysentery. The related but smaller European dewberry (R. caesius) can be distinguished by the white, waxy coating on the fruits, which also usually have fewer drupelets. (Rubus caesius) is in its own section (Caesii) within the subgenus Rubus.
In some parts of the world, such as in Chile, New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest region of North America, some blackberry species, particularly Rubus armeniacus (syn. R. procerus, 'Himalaya') and Rubus laciniatus ('Evergreen') are naturalised and considered an invasive species and a serious weed.. The Marionberry was introduced by G.F. Waldo with USDA-ARS in Corvallis, Oregon in 1956. Adapted to western Oregon, the Marionberry is named after Marion County, Oregon, in which it was tested extensively. Olallie in turn is a cross between loganberry and youngberry. 'Marion', 'Chehalem' and 'Olallie' are just three of the many trailing blackberry cultivars developed by the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) blackberry breeding program at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. The most recent cultivars released from this program are the thornless cultivars 'Black Diamond', 'Black Pearl' and 'Nightfall' as well as the very early ripening 'Obsidian' and 'Metolius'. Some of the other cultivars from this program are 'Waldo', 'Siskiyou', 'Black Butte', 'Kotata Berry', 'Pacific' and 'Cascade'. Trailing blackberries are vigorous, crown forming, require a trellis for support, and are less cold hardy than the erect or semi-erect blackberries. In addition to the Pacific Northwest of the USA, these types do well in similar climates such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Chile, and the Mediterranean countries.
Semi-erect, thornless blackberries were first developed at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK, and subsequently by the USDA-ARS in Beltsville, Maryland. These are crown forming, very vigorous, and need a trellis for support. Cultivars include 'Black Satin' 'Chester Thornless', 'Dirksen Thornless', 'Hull Thornless', 'Loch Ness', 'Loch Tay', 'Merton Thornless', 'Smoothstem' and 'Triple Crown'. Recently, the cultivar 'Cacanska Bestrna' (also called 'Cacak Thornless') has been developed in Serbia and has been planted on many thousands of hectares there.
The University of Arkansas has developed cultivars of erect blackberries. These types are less vigorous than the semi-erect types and produce new canes from root initials (therefore they spread underground like raspberries). There are thornless and thorny cultivars from this program, including 'Navaho', 'Ouachita', 'Cherokee', 'Apache', 'Arapaho' and 'Kiowa'. They are also responsible for developing the primocane fruiting blackberries. In raspberries, these types are called primocane fruiting, fall fruiting, or everbearing and have been around for some time. Prime-Jim and Prime-Jan were released in 2004 and are the first cultivars of primocane fruiting blackberry. They grow much like the other erect cultivars described above, however the canes that emerge in the spring, will flower in mid-summer and fruit in late summer or fall. The fall crop has its highest quality when it ripens in cool climates.
'Illini Hardy' a semi-erect thorny cultivar introduced by the University of Illinois is cane hardy in zone 5, where traditionally blackberry production has been problematic, since canes often failed to survive the winter.
The blackberry tends to be red during its unripe ("green") phase, hence the old expression that "Blackberries are red when they're green".
In various parts of the United States, wild blackberries are sometimes called "Black-caps", a term more commonly used for black raspberries, Rubus occidentalis.
Blackberry production in Mexico has exploded in the past decade. While this industry was initially based on the cultivar 'Brazos' it is now based on 'Tupi'. 'Brazos' was an old erect blackberry cultivar developed in Texas in 1959. 'Tupi' was developed in Brazil and released in the late 1990s. 'Tupi' has the erect blackberry 'Comanche' and 'Uruguai' as parents . In order to produce these blackberries in these areas of Mexico where there is no winter chilling to stimulate flower bud development, chemical defoliation and application of growth regulators are used to bring the plants into bloom.

Superstition and myths

200px|thumb|right|13 August 2007, [[Manchester, England. Bramble; in background unripe fruit on second-year side shoots; late flowers from tip-flowering of first-year growth]] Superstition in the UK holds that blackberries should not be picked after Michaelmas (29 September) as the devil has claimed them, having left a mark on the leaves by urinating on them. There is some value behind this legend as after this date wetter and cooler weather often allows the fruit to become infected by various moulds such as Botryotinia which give the fruit an unpleasant look and may be toxic.

See also


External links

blackberry in Aragonese: Esbarzera
blackberry in Bulgarian: Къпина
blackberry in Catalan: Esbarzer
blackberry in Welsh: Mwyaren
blackberry in Danish: Almindelig Brombær
blackberry in German: Brombeeren
blackberry in Spanish: Rubus ulmifolius
blackberry in Esperanto: Rubuso
blackberry in French: Ronce commune
blackberry in Italian: Rubus ulmifolius
blackberry in Hebrew: פטל שחור
blackberry in Hungarian: Vadszeder
blackberry in Dutch: Braam (plant)
blackberry in Japanese: ブラックベリー
blackberry in Norwegian: Bjørnebær
blackberry in Narom: Rubus fruticosus
blackberry in Polish: Jeżyna
blackberry in Portuguese: Amora-silvestre
blackberry in Russian: Ежевика
blackberry in Simple English: Blackberry
blackberry in Finnish: Karhunvatukka
blackberry in Swedish: Björnbär
blackberry in Cherokee: ᎧᏄᎦᎸ
blackberry in Turkish: Böğürtlen
blackberry in Chinese: 黑莓
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