Common Blackberry

Common Blackberry

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Rubus allegheniensis
Rosaceae (roses)

An erect shrub, the branches occasionally to 8 feet and arching high or being supported by surrounding trees or shrubs.

Leaves alternate, compound, with 3-5 leaflets; leaflets 2½-4 inches long, egg-shaped, edges coarsely toothed; medium green above, paler below. The end leaflet on primary canes are 3¼-5 inches long, or 2–3 times longer than broad.

Stems consist of canes with broad-based, recurved thorns. The primary (first-year) canes are green to reddish, ribbed, with numerous prickles. Flower canes (second year) are brown.

Flowers April–June, in clusters 4–5 inches long, or 2–4 times as long as broad, rather elongated and cylindrical. Flowers 6–12 and sometimes to 30, showy, ¾ inch across, petals 5, white oval; stamens numerous.

Fruits June–August. Abundant, deep violet to black, glossy juicy, sweet, globe-shaped or cylindrical, about ¾ inch long.

Height: 5 feet; spread: 8 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Blackberry is widespread in Missouri and is found in rocky, open woods, along bluffs and fencerows, on glades and in thickets, old fields and open valleys. Often associated with gray dogwood, viburnum and sumac. This is only one of several species of blackberry in our state. Common blackberry is highly variable depending on genetic strain, growing conditions, and intergrading with related species and within its own species.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Widespread in Missouri.
Human connections: 
This fast-growing, colony-forming shrub is the original wild form from which many of the cultivated blackberries have been selected, and berry-pickers of all stripes brave scratches and chiggers as they collect these juicy berries for pies, preserves or just plain eating.
Ecosystem connections: 
Provides food and cover for many wildlife species. Deer eat the fruit and browse tender canes. Much of the summer diet of turkeys is composed of the fruit. Many small animals find much-needed shelter within the maze of prickly stems in a blackberry “briar patch.”
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