20 Things You Didn’t Know About Blackberries

Adelia Ritchie, PhD
3 min readAug 2, 2020
Himalayan Blackberries, photo by Adelia Ritchie
  1. No, we’re not talking about a brand of smartphone.
  2. A blackberry is actually not a fruit, but an aggregate fruit composed of drupelets.
  3. A peach is a drupe, for example, also known as a stone fruit. A blackberry is composed of small drupes, or drupelets.
  4. Wikipedia says that blackberry shrubs are known to tolerate poor soil, readily colonizing wasteland, ditches and vacant lots. What this really means is that blackberries are the most invasive, pernicious, hated weed this side of Kudzu.
  5. Blackberry (genus Rubus, family Rosaceae) is the unofficial State Weed of both Washington and Oregon. But even given its lowly status, the berries still cost $10.64/lb in Safeway last week.
  6. Blackberries have been eaten by humans for thousands of years. Research has recently shown that our mitochondrial DNA has actually incorporated blackberry gene sequences into our chromosomes. It is believed that the gods did this to ensure humans would be fruitful and multiply and cover the earth.
  7. A well-known cultivar, introduced by George F. Waldo in Corvallis, Oregon, in 1956, is the Marionberry. Contrary to what I first believed, this crazy fruit was not named after a former mayor of the District of Columbia.
  8. The blackberry tends to be red during its unripe (“green”) phase, leading to an old expression that “blackberries are red when they’re green.”
  9. Don’t buy blackberries from Mexico. There is no winter chilling there to stimulate flower bud development. So, in order to produce berries, growth regulators and chemical defoliation are used to bring the plants into bloom. Instead, come to my house in September, and you can pick a lifetime supply, for free. Please.
  10. If you’re British, you won’t be picking blackberries after Old Michaelmas Day (October 11th) because the devil will have claimed them, marking them with his urine. Or it could have just been Farmer Brown relieving himself in the brambles. Dangerous for the farmer, though, if you think about it.
  11. Blackberries are not to be confused with black raspberries, which look identical to blackberries, but apparently don’t taste like blackberries at all. Nor do they taste like raspberries.
Adelia Ritchie, PhD

Science lover, contributing editor at SalishMagazine.org, veggie gardener, expat