Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus L.)

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Origin

The blackberry is a fruit that belongs to the Rosaceae family. It is an aggregate fruit that is made up of many small drupelets. The blackberry is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, and has been introduced to North America and Australia.

Blackberries are grown commercially in many countries around the world. The United States, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina are some of the largest producers of blackberries. Blackberries are also grown in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Consumption

Blackberry consumption can be traced back to the Stone Age. Archaeologists have found evidence of blackberry consumption in the form of fossilized fruit pits in Europe and Asia. Blackberries were also mentioned in ancient Greek and Roman texts. In the Middle Ages, blackberries were used to make pies and tarts. Blackberry jam became a popular food item in the 18th century.

Blackberries can be eaten fresh or used in a variety of recipes. Blackberry jam, Blackberry pie, and Blackberry pudding are some popular dishes that use blackberries as the main ingredient. Blackberries can also be made into wine and used in cosmetics.

Medicinal Uses

Blackberry leaves have been used medicinally for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. Blackberry leaf tea is thought to be helpful in treating diarrhea, dysentery, and other gastrointestinal problems. Blackberry leaf extract is also sometimes used as a natural mouthwash or gargle.

Health benefits:

– improve brain function and memory

– good source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and K, and manganese

Nutritional value 

Blackberries are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and K, and manganese.

Blackberries are also a good source of antioxidants.

Soil

Wild blackberries excel at colonizing our poor, and extremely acidic sands in North Florida, however most recommendations I can find for cultivated varieties recommend the addition of organic matter and liming up to a pH of 5.5-6.5. Fertilizing is optional, and should be done with manure, or very lightly if you use synthetics.

Water

Blackberries flower and ripen during our spring dry season. Irrigation is necessary during most years for successful fruit production, even for wild berries. Continued irrigation during dry periods, will probably improve growth and bud production for next year’s season.

Sun

Full sun to part shade.

Cold

These blackberries can take all the cold that North Florida can throw at them.

Pruning

Blackberries fruit on the second year cane called the florican. It should be removed soon after fruiting to help with disease control. It would die soon anyway. The first year cane, called primocane will emerge from the root crown approximately at that time. If it is especially vigorous, the tip should be clipped at 30-36 inches in height to encourage lateral branching. This increases productivity and reduces trellis needs.

Propagation

Propagation is easily accomplished by root cuttings taken in the winter. Look for thick roots (used for energy storage). Clip them off about 4-6 inches long, leaving the majority of feeder roots attached to the parent plant. Bury the root clippings a few inches down in the spot for the new plant, or in a pot. Shoots will emerge from the buried root any time from April-June. Removing a plant’s storage roots during the winter will reduce its productivity in the coming season.

Pests

Some pests eat blackberries but they are usually not a significant problem.

Other problems

Weeds can be a difficult problem to overcome, especially the perennial ones. Mulch can reduce annual weed seed germination, but you’re probably going to have to hand-weed regularly.

Harvesting, storage, and preparation

Hand harvest and eat or use in baking. Storage can be accomplished in the short term by refrigeration, or long term by freezing/canning/jam.

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