What’s a blackberry?

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Blackberries are a species of Rubus fruticosus with numerous subspecies and cultivars. They grow wild in the Pacific Northwest and are ripe when the drupelets are black. They are used in many dishes and are rich in antioxidants. Thornless varieties are available.

Blackberries refer to the plant of the genus and species Rubus fruticosi, as well as its fruit. There are numerous subspecies and a number of cultivars developed from common blackberries, including Marionberries and Olallieberries. If you live in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, you’re probably already familiar with blackberries, as they grow wild and tenaciously in many uncleared areas. You may be familiar with them if you’ve ever tried to eradicate them from a garden, since they’re an aggressive species that will come back again and again to invade your most cultivated plants.

On the other hand, some people welcome the sight of green leaves of blackberries and even the thorns as they produce a delicious fruit. Blackberries aren’t really berries, but instead have clusters of drupelets or small fruits on each “berry.” They are generally considered ripe when the drupelets are completely black; do not confuse them with raspberries and pick them when they are red or you will have a very acidic fruit. They don’t ripen well after being picked, so patience while waiting for the blackberries to ripen is important.

In the shops you will find blackberries, often at quite expensive prices, between the end of July and the beginning of August. You may be able to find fresh blackberries before they are shipped from Mexico. In Mexico, the blackberry industry is booming and since the fruit ripens before the weather, you may be able to find fresh berries ripe as early as June.

People in the Pacific Northwest sometimes laugh at the prices of blackberries given how quickly they will spread and grow and the minimal cultivation or care required of them. You can find them growing along the sides of highways, near riverbanks, in servitude in major cities, and by small creeks. You will find them in many backyards and in numerous state, national and city parks. Some care is required if harvesting blackberries in more “wooded areas,” as poison oak often grows alongside or within blackberry plants.

When blackberry plants are left alone, they can grow to impressive heights, many exceeding 10 feet (3.05m) or more. They thrive best where they get some exposure to the sun, although they can do well in the shade too. Wild blackberries are full of thorns, which help protect the plants. Of course, because blackberries taste so good, botanists have developed thornless varieties and varieties that can be stem-trained like raspberries if you really want to grow berries or just have an easier method of picking them. When choosing the wild type, the taste can still be excellent and is often a compensation for some biting fingers, although gloves may be worn.

Blackberries are excellent eaten plain or seasoned with ice cream. They make delicious jams, preserves, pies and tarts. Blackberries in muffins are simply delicious, and blackberry scones are popular. The fruit is healthy, rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin C. Blackberry honey is also very popular, as the fruit produces high-quality nectar for bees. It is usually dark in color, almost mimicking ripe fruit, and has an earthy, fruity flavor that many consider superior to other types of honey.

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