Blackberry, European blackberry, bramble
mûre (French), Brombeere (German), mora selvatica (Italian), mora/zarzamora (Spanish), amora silvestre (Portuguese), martzuka (Basque), brammbes (Dutch), brombær (Danish), bjønebær (Norwegian), björnbär (Swedish), poimuvatukka (Finnish), yezhevika (Russian), jezyna (Polish), óstruzina (Czech), ostruzina krovita (Slovak), kupina (Serbo-Croat), coacaz negru (Romanian), kupina (Bulgarian), batomouron (Greek), bögürtlen (Turkish), hei mei (Chinese), seiyoyabuichigo (Japanese)
Blackberry is a name commonly used for the European blackberry or bramble (R. fruticosus), but it is also a collective name given to a large group of fruits of the same genus which grow throughout the cooler parts of the world.
Conservative estimates state that there are over 2,000 varieties of blackberries, including both the frequent and naturally occurring hybrids, as well as the cultivated types.
Blackberries are from the Rose family and virtually indistinguishable from the dewberry and the raspberry. The main difference between them is that blackberries are larger and grow on a thorny upright bush, while the dewberry bush has trailing branches.
There is also another sure test. When a blackberry is picked, it comes off the plant with its receptacle. The receptacle is the solid center to which the drupelets cling. When a raspberry is picked, the receptacle remains on the bush; and the berry is hollow inside.
A good blackberry will have large drupelets in relation to the inner core. The blackberry bush annexes any available piece of ground around it, and is quite prevalent in the Vancouver, Canada, area.
The shiny berries are purplish-black in colour and made up of a number of segments (drupelets), each containing a hard seed. They grow wild almost everywhere in the world, but are also cultivated to give a larger, juicier berry with better keeping properties.
The blackberry is more highly esteemed in Britain and Northern Europe than in any other European country. In Scandinavia, Asian blackberries and dewberries are common and come under such names as the red Arctic bramble and the golden cloudberry (R. chamaemorus).
In western and central Asia, blackberries grow as far south as Iran and up to the Himalayas. One such species is called the Himalayan giant (R. procera), a western European species now found growing in the US as well. The wild blackberries of the Far East are more usually black raspberries rather than blackberries. In New Zealand, European blackberries are common, having been introduced by white settlers.
The North American species are highly diverse and have been interbred with imported varieties. One common one is the Pacific blackberry (R. ursinus), which has large fruits. Another wild blackberry, which arrived from England via the South Seas, is the evergreen or cut-leaved blackberry (R. laciniatus).
Blackberry and dewberry cultivation in the US is quite extensive. The erect woody plants were developed, being preferable to the trailing brambles. Some crossbreeds occur naturally, like the loganberry and tayberry; but others have been cultivated to produce a more robust or better flavored fruit.
All hybrids can be cooked or frozen in the same manner. Since blackberries do not keep well, they must be used immediately or cooked or frozen.
Not everyone appreciates them, however. After they were introduced to Australia by early settlers, they were declared a noxious weed in some areas.
Blackberries are rich in dietary fiber and Vitamin C. They also contain some calcium, phosphorus and potassium. The ancient Greeks prized them as much for the medicinal properties of their leaves as for the fruit.
Blackberries contain the soluble red anthocyanin pigments that leech out and stain everything blue. Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants. Adding lemon juice to a pie, for example, stabilizes these pigments, and is a practical way of keeping the berries their original colour.