Is This a Black Raspberry or a Blackberry?

Up and down the lane and along the edges of the farmer’s field there are lots of berries. Most are not quite ripe for picking yet, but it won’t be long before we have stained hands from collecting them.

There appears to be two varieties growing here and in several areas they are adjacent to each other. Looking up Rubus spp. in Gleason and Cronquist’s Manual of Vascular Plants, I see there are well over 200 species and hybrids. No wonder the wildflower field guides state that identification is best left to experts!

At the risk of being labeled an amateur I won’t be identifying the berry plants to species. What I do think we have are blackberry and black raspberry plants.

One of the berry plants has lighter foliage with elongated leaves. The berries are more rounded than those on the other type of berry plant – I think these are the black raspberry plants. The berries held in a cluster at the end of the stems are ripening one at a time. Delicious, they are!

Blackberry fruit ripening on the vine.
Black raspberry fruit ripening on the vine.
Get in my belly!
Get in my belly!

The second type of berry plant is more plentiful and has more berries which are of an elongated shape. These are blackberry plants. The green fruit will get bigger before ripening.

Some of the black raspberries arise singly in the leaf axils.
Some of the blackberries arise singly in the leaf axils.
Black raspberries more often occur in clusters along the main stem.
Blackberries more often occur in clusters along the main stem.
Clusters of the black raspberries are plentiful this year.
Clusters of the blackberries are plentiful this year.

It’s like a dream come true to have wild raspberries and blackberries growing on our property. I have fond memories of collecting them at camp as a child. Knowing that berries are a great health food makes me enjoy them even more as an adult.

5 thoughts on “Is This a Black Raspberry or a Blackberry?

  1. Are you sure it’s not the other way around? I find there are a few ways to tell black raspberries from blackberries.

    Black raspberries ripen sooner (at least here in Massachusetts), usually in late June and July. Also, when picked, they have a hollow center, and could almost work as a finger puppet — like store bought red raspberries.

    Blackberries on the other hand ripen in late July and August (here in MA). When picked, the core stays put, so you have no finger puppet. The canes are also usually armed with more dangerous thorns, making foraging them a bit more tricky.

    Nonetheless I love them both.

    –Josh

  2. Right you are, Josh! I’ve updated the names on the photos.

    The overall shape of the berry is not a reliable way to distinguish the types of berries. I’ll have to remember “hollow raspberries in June” – which are all gone I’m sad to report.

    The blackberries are turning red here in Pennsylvania. I drove through the Berkshires last week. Very beautiful countryside there – I’ll bet you have quite a few visitors for the fall foliage in MA! Are the black berries ripening there yet?

    I agree they are both delicious!

  3. Most of the blackberries I’ve seen so far are green, but I noticed one starting to turn yesterday. A couple more weeks I imagine.

    Keep on blogging.

    –Josh

  4. Yesterday I had my first two hands full of delicious blackberries. Tomorrow I’m taking a container to collect some more!

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