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Rubus alleghaniensis

Common Name(s):
Blackberry, Common blackberry
Edible Plants, Native Plants, Shrubs

The Genus Rubus, which includes Blackberry, Dewberry, and Raspberry contain several species that differ sometimes only slightly, some of which are erect or arching shrubs up to 8' high.  Other species trail along the ground and are vinelike.  Most plants have thorny or bristly stems, and all but one species in North Carolina has compound leaves.  New shoots seldom have flowers or fruits, however, the second year the branches will flower and fruit.  Typically, the "dewberries" produce fruits in the spring, and the 'blackberries or raspberries' during the summer.

Common blackberry is a woody shrub that forms canes that are initially erect but often bend downward to re-root in the ground. These canes actively grow and form leaves during the first year, and develop fruits in the form of drupes during the second year, after which they die down. The canes are about 3-6' tall; they are green where there is new growth at the tips, otherwise, they are brown or reddish brown with stout prickles that are straight or somewhat curved. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant often forms loose colonies vegetatively. It grows easily and quickly from transplants or cuttings of young growth.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains  

Seasons of Interest:

  Bloom: Late spring or early summer       Fruit: Summer 

Wildlife Value: The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract many kinds of insects, especially long-tongued and short-tongued bees. This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer.  It provides excellent cover year round.  Butterflies and other insects are attracted to the blooms.  The fruits are relished by songbirds, small mammals, foxes, raccoons and black bears.  During the winter, birds and small mammals eat the seeds left from rotten fruit.  White-tailed deer and rabbits browse the leaves.  This Genus contains some of the most important plants for wildlife in the southeast.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: It can become aggressive and be difficult to eliminate; the use of herbicides may be required on some occasions.

4-8 ft.
The blackberry has alternate leaves trifoliate or palmately compound, with long petioles. The leaflets are up to 4" long and 3" across and are up to twice as long as wide. A typical leaflet is usually ovate with coarse, doubly serrate margins. It may have a few scattered white hairs on the upper surface, while the lower surface is light green and pubescent.
On the canes longer than wide racemes develop with around 12 white 5 petaled flowers. The petals have rounded tips that sometimes are wrinkly and arelonger than the 5 green sepals with pointed tips. In the center of each flower, are numerous stamens with yellow anthers surrounding a green reproductive structure with a prickly appearance. Drupes develop later in the summer; they are about ¾" long and 1/3" across, although their size varies with moisture levels. The drupes are initially white or green, but eventually turn red, finally becoming almost black.
The blackberry grows best in full sun to light shade in rich fertile soil. A clay-loam or rocky soil will also work.
Upright, arching
Full sun to partial shade
Aggregate drupe
The fruit of the blackberry is seedy and has a sweet flavor when fully ripened. They are eaten fresh or can be preserved or frozen. They are often made into pies, syrups, jams, or other desserts.
4-10 ft.
bramble, fruit, deciduous, drought tolerant, nectar, specialized bees, shrub

NCCES plant id: 3230

Rubus alleghaniensis Leaves close up
Rubus alleghaniensis Flower buds not open
Salicyna, CC BY-SA - 4.0
Rubus alleghaniensis Rubus alleghaniensis
Salicyna, CC BY-SA - 4.0
Rubus alleghaniensis Flower close up
Rubus alleghaniensis Unripe (red) and ripe (black) berries
Joshua Mayer, CC-BY-SA-2.0