Blackberry Plant Information – a Wonderful Plant to Propagate
This post provides Blackberry Plant Information and gives details on how to propagate and eat this medicinal plant.
Blackberry (Rubus) is one of my favorite fruits. They are easy to grow, very productive, and they taste great. There are over 375 different species of blackberries. There are many hybrids out there that offer bushy features that don’t require to be trellised up, there are thornless varieties, and there are varieties that fruit on both first and second year canes.
Blackberry and raspberry are both in the Rubus family. The difference between a blackberry and raspberry is the stem stays with the blackberry fruit when picked, whereas with a raspberry the stem stays with the plant leaving a hollow fruit. Each fruit is actually an aggregate fruit consisting of of many drupelets.
Blackberries have a perennial root system and biennial canes. In the first year a new cane called a primocane grows vigorously, up to 25-feet long (mine only grow to about 10ft). It has large fan-like palmately compound leaves with 5 or 7 leaflets. In the second year the cane is known as a floricane. The floricane do not grow longer but do grow lateral shoots with flowers and have 3 to 5 leaflets. First- and second-year shoots usually have numerous short-curved, very sharp prickles.
Blackberries usually only produce fruit on floricanes. There are some hybrid varieties out now that produce fruit on both primocane and floricanes. After fruiting, the second-year canes die and should be be removed to ensure good future fruit production.
The flowers appear in late spring and early summer on the lateral shoots. Each flower has 5 petals that are white (in some cases a pale pink). The fruit is usually green when immature and turn slightly red as they approach maturity. Unless you like really bitter fruit, you don’t want to pick them until they have turned black. Another way to tell ripeness is the ripe fruit will readily give way with a simple pull. Unripe fruit requires a harder tug.
I have both thorned and thornless varieties at my place. The thorned variety produces great tasting fruit, but often times draws blood as I’m reaching for the fruit. The thornless variety also tastes great and does not draw blood. The only possible issue I see with the thornless variety is the deer will move in and pick all the leaves off. They seem a little more hesitant to do that with the thorned variety.
Blackberries tolerate poor soil and you can find blackberry plants growing in vacant lots, along the forest edge, and ditches. They prefer acidic to slightly basic (6.0-7.0), well-drained, and organic soil. Blackberries are self pollinating. They are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4-9 and require 400 to 500 chill hours. In some areas blackberries are considered an invasive weed.
The soft fruit is popular for use in desserts, jams, seedless jelly, and wine. It can also be used in pies and to produce candy. Non-humans like blackberries as well. The leaves are chewed on by caterpillars and deer. The fruit are eaten by birds and mammals.
Blackberries contain both soluble and insoluble fiber components as well as vitamins C and K.
Worldwide, Mexico is the leading producer of blackberries and Oregon is the leading producer of blackberries in the United states.
Blackberries can be propagated by cuttings (root and stem), suckers, and tip layering. This year I had about four dozen plants that tip layered themselves and rooted. I had another couple of dozen suckers. I have cut these / dug them up and will be replanting them around the farm this weekend.
For cuttings, choose a cane that is still firm and succulent. You’ll want to take about 4-6 inches of the cane stems. These should be placed in a moist peat/sand mix, sticking them in a couple inches deep. I tried doing cuttings this year and did not have much success. In doing research for this post, I see that my cuttings were not long enough. I only had 2-3 inch cuttings. I’ll try again next year with longer cuttings.
For suckers, simply find a sucker that is already growing, dig it up being sure to dig far enough away from the sucker to keep some of the roots, and replant elsewhere.
For tip layering, just take a cane that is growing and stick the tip in a pot of soil. After a few weeks you should have roots. At that point you can cut the original cane and you now have a new plant.
“Blackberry is a plant. The leaf, root, and fruit (berry) are used to make medicine.
Blackberry is used for treating diarrhea, fluid retention, diabetes, gout, and pain and swelling (inflammation); and for preventing cancer and heart disease.
It is also used as a mouth rinse for mild mouth and throat irritation.
How does it work?
Blackberry contains chemicals that might have antioxidant effects. It also contains chemicals that might protect against cancer.” *
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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