Rubus ursinus (Blackberry, Bramble Bush, Dewberry)
Description: Tough trailing vines with wicked thorns give Blackberry the synonym–plant barbwire. Stems 1′-8′ long. Leaflets havea rough serrated edge & are grouped in threes. The white flowers have 5 petals. The berry is a compact cluster of shiny black globes which do not pull away from teh central core. The Rubus genus contains a number of species which can be used in a manner similar to R. ursinus.
Habitat: Disturbed sites, along trails & roads, canyons, open woodlands, abandoned farmland. California to British Columbia.
Caution: Avoid the obvious thorns.
One potential problem with Blackberry is confusion with Poison Oak. The three-leaf-pattern shared by both poison oak & some species of Blackberries makes it imperative that you make sure your plant has thorns before touching the foliage. Do not take a chance on a case of mistaken identity.
Uses: Blackberries are excellent fresh. Jams & jellies can be made from the fruit:
Civil War Jam
4 cups Blackberries, 2 cups brown sugar
Stir the sugar & Blackberries together & mash. Boil the mixture gently over low heat for 30 minutes to an hour. The resultant jam may be stored in your freezer or can be poured hot & sealed in sterile jars.
Other: During the Civil War, the blue & grey troops would often make a truce so that the men could go foraging for Blackberries.The berries were thought to be helpful in preventing dysentery & certain stomach disorders. It must have been felt that the men’s health was more important than the war– at least at the moment.
Database Entry: Melanie Dixon & Distance Everheart 4-7-13