Wild Blackberry: The Next-to-Worst Weed

Wild Blackberry: The Next-to-Worst Weed

They are stabby, fast-growing, and seem to have an endless underground network, making destroying them next to impossible.

…but they make the tastiest berries!

I mean, seriously, I can’t eat store-bought blackberries anymore. Every commercial berry is flat and tasteless next to these fat, juicy flavor-bombs.

But their tastiness is why they are so very dangerous: we keep them around. We don’t cut them back and try to kill them. We tell ourselves “I’ll just let that one vine keep growing so we’ll have berries next summer.”

Blackberry vines in unwanted places
Left: My patio being assimilated into blackberry territory. Right: One of the runners that dangles into my walkway, looking for purchase on the ground to root and spread further.

That one stalk is now a thicket larger than my living room.

It’s Berry Madness!

Yes, there are places the berries grow wild, and we could¬†trek down there and pick a bundle. But the convenience of walking out my back door with a little berry basket, filling it up, and topping the family’s oatmeal on a Sunday morning? How do you beat that?

So I, at least, put up with the other issues, including the 1/4 inch daggers that line the vines and stab me and my children, the vines that grow a foot or more a day into walkways and driveways and patios, and the general danger the vicious vines pose to any soft-skinned creature in my yard, because of those delicious devil berries.

close-up of thorns of wild or Himalayan Blackberry
The largest thorns are almost an inch long, like an iron maiden punishing you for those sweet foraged berries.

If you, too, are addicted to the stuff, and need your supply close at hand, do yourself a favor and invest in a pair of rose gloves. There are a bunch out there ranging from pretty cheap fabric ones to leather gauntlets, and do a decent job of keeping my hands and arms un-stabbed when I am dealing with the vines and picking berries.

Another cool tool to help feed your habit is this nifty little picker a friend of mine uses to grab the berries from the wild thickets when the easy-to-pick ones are gone and only the fruits in the super-high parts of the bramble are ripe. I’ll include a link when I find out where the heck she got it!

If you don’t have the wild Himalayan Blackberries growing in your yard already, I recommend NOT inviting them. There are many other varieties of blackberry, ollalieberry, and black raspberry that grow well, sometimes with milder thorns (warning: less thorns can sometimes mean less flavor. Plant DNA is weird like that!), and are less invasive and are still better than anything store-bought.

A few I grow and really like the flavor of are Olallieberry and Marionberry. I bought them during the bare-root season (winter, January and February) at Wegman’s Nursey in Redwood City.¬†They grow much more slowly, so their berries are few and far between, but every year the yield increases. I also don’t have to fight their vines just to get to my trash cans without lacerations, so I’m happy with the compromise.

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