Garden Wildplants
             Garden Wildplants
Bramble, blackberry  Rubus fruticosus agg.
 
Family:        Rosaceae Rose family
Shoots:       up to 5m
Flowering:  in late spring
Fruiting:     in late summer and autumn
 
An excellent plant for a variety of wildlife but beware, bramble reproduces rapidly by seed, and vegetatively - where long arching stems rest on the ground and take root - and will rapidly form dense thickets if not restrained. Bramble has thorns on stems and leaf veins and can become almost impenetrable.  Its seeds are readily spread by birds and it’s rarely necessary to plant it, since bramble appears in most hedges and gardens naturally, although rarely where you want it! Cultivated varieties are available for the best fruit, and some have been bred to be thornless.  We have listed bramble as a hedge plant and as a climber, because cultivars can usefully be trained up a fence or wall.
History and uses
 
The first botanical record in Britain was by Turner  in 15381., but bramble has been used by people from well before recorded history, and the seeds are commonly found in archaeological sites.  The berries (technically aggregates of drupelets) make delicious pies, jelly and wine, and are pleasant raw when fully ripe.  Bramble has many local names, some of which reference its spines.  Vickery records (among many others) brammle, brimble. bummelty-kites, cats claws and in Sussex “lawyers” “When they gets a holt on you, you don’t easy get shot of em”.2. Folklore has it that blackberries become “Devils fruit” after frost, and they certainly then lose their flavour and shrivel.
 
Associated species
 
Bramble is a very popular food plant for about 150 insect species.  Young shoots and leaves are food for caterpillars of the grizzled skipper butterfly Pyrgus malvae and many moths including the bramble shoot moth Epiblema uddmanniaria and scarlet tiger moth Callimorpha dominula. Red admiral and speckled wood butterflies, bees and hoverflies are among many insects attracted to nectar of blackberry flowers. Several species of beetle feed on different parts of bramble including the pollen beetle Meligethes aeneus, and the bramble jewel beetle Agrilus cuprescens which lives and feeds within the stems.3. Blackbirds, robins, blackcaps and garden warblers are among the birds that benefit from the blackberry harvest in autumn.
 
References
 
1.  Pearman, D. The Discovery of the Native Flora of Britain and Ireland. (2017). BSBI, Bristol p 346
 
2.  Vickery, R. 2019. Vickery’s Folk Flora, An A to Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. London pp 95
 
3.  Biological Records Centre database
 
 
Page drafted by Caroline Ware, extended and compiled by Steve Head
 
Bramble, blackberry  Rubus fruticosus agg.
 
Family:         Rosaceae Rose family
Shoots:       up to 5m
Flowering:   in late spring
Fruiting:      in late summer and autumn
 
Bramble, blackberry  Rubus fruticosus agg. 
 
Family:         Rosaceae Rose family
Shoots:       up to 5m
Flowering:   in late spring
Fruiting:      in late summer and autumn
 
An excellent plant for a variety of wildlife but beware, bramble reproduces rapidly by seed, and vegetatively - where long arching stems rest on the ground and take root - and will rapidly form dense thickets if not restrained. Bramble has thorns on stems and leaf veins and can become almost impenetrable.  Its seeds are readily spread by birds and it’s rarely necessary to plant it, since bramble appears in most hedges and gardens naturally, although rarely where you want it! Cultivated varieties are available for the best fruit, and some have been bred to be thornless.  We have listed bramble as a hedge plant and as a climber, because cultivars can usefully be trained up a fence or wall.
History and uses
 
The first botanical record in Britain was by Turner  in 15381., but bramble has been used by people from well before recorded history, and the seeds are commonly found in archaeological sites.  The berries (technically aggregates of drupelets) make delicious pies, jelly and wine, and are pleasant raw when fully ripe.  Bramble has many local names, some of which reference its spines.  Vickery records (among many others) brammle, brimble. bummelty-kites, cats claws and in Sussex “lawyers” “When they gets a holt on you, you don’t easy get shot of em”.2. Folklore has it that blackberries become “Devils fruit” after frost, and they certainly then lose their flavour and shrivel.
 
Associated species
 
Bramble is a very popular food plant for about 150 insect species.  Young shoots and leaves are food for caterpillars of the grizzled skipper butterfly Pyrgus malvae and many moths including the bramble shoot moth Epiblema uddmanniaria and scarlet tiger moth Callimorpha dominula. Red admiral and speckled wood butterflies, bees and hoverflies are among many insects attracted to nectar of blackberry flowers. Several species of beetle feed on different parts of bramble including the pollen beetle Meligethes aeneus, and the bramble jewel beetle Agrilus cuprescens which lives and feeds within the stems.3. Blackbirds, robins, blackcaps and garden warblers are among the birds that benefit from the blackberry harvest in autumn.
 
References
 
1.  Pearman, D. The Discovery of the Native Flora of Britain and Ireland. (2017). BSBI, Bristol p 346
 
2.  Vickery, R. 2019. Vickery’s Folk Flora, An A to Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. London pp 95
 
3.  Biological Records Centre database
 
 
Page drafted by Caroline Ware, extended and compiled by Steve Head
 
       Garden Wildplants
             Garden Wildplants