Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

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27 July 2010

Thorny Post

Marguerite mentioned blackberries in her last couple of posts, and so did Lucia at Rhymes with Fuchsia. I had been twittering about the large and confusing genus Rubus, so I took the camera out for a walk in search of thorny things.

First off, what is the genus Rubus, anyway?

Rubus is the genus of a large group of plants including raspberries, dewberries, blackberries, and thimbleberries found all over North America.

When we moved to our property, I started noticing all different kinds and went to my Peterson wildflower field guide to sort out the differences.

Peterson, for once, blew me a literary raspberry of its own, saying only

Brambles (Blackberries, etc.)
Most plants of the genus Rubus are woody, prickly, or bristly shrubs, outside the scope of this book; most are problems for the specialist. Gray recognizes 205 species in our area. See A Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs for a small selection.
So I suppose as soon as I finish patiently clicking through all 237 species shown at the USDA website, I might know what I have growing here.

This is what I see when I go out walking.These blackberries are my favorite kind for canning. They make a tall, stout cane with wicked thorns, but they also produce lots of fruit.

This is the main difference (in my mind, anyway, or maybe my local dialect) between a blackberry and a black raspberry.When I pick a blackberry, the center stays in. When I pick a raspberry (black, red, or golden/yellow), the center comes out and the edible berry is hollow.

Let's take another look at those thorns:
Ouch!


Last year I found a happy hybrid: right down the path from the thorny ones, in the midst of a patch of trailing or sprawling thornless blackberries, a thornless blackberry with stout canes came up.It's in a shady spot, so the fruit is not ripe yet.

Check out the lack of thorns!I want to move them into the sun, but I don't want to kill them. I'll probably bury the leafy tip in a pot of soil and let it root.

I think this one is some kind of dewberry, but it never fruits enough to be sure. It has a fuzz of thorns, but they're bendy.
Then I have Rubus something-or-other with completely different leaves, a palmate leaf like a Virginia creeper.
These are the sprawling brambles I have everywhere, the ones that like to rip my ankles to shreds:The leaves turn an incredibly beautiful deep red in the fall, and in the spring they have such a delicate, crinkly-petalled white flower. Before I found the tall-caned ones, I used to pick and can these guys.

Their thorns don't look like much, but there are plenty of them.

Last of all, here is a black raspberry cane, next year's fruiting cane.I can't show any berries for them, because their season has ended.

(And so has this post.)

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7 Comments:

Blogger Knitting Linguist said...

So many varieties! I especially love that thornless one (having had my share of run-ins with the thorny kind) -- I hope the attempt to get one into a pot works.

Thank you so much for the link to the Bower blog -- that was really interesting! I'll keep my fingers crossed that you're able to see that exhibit in one of its other two locations; it truly was fascinating.

5:10 PM  
Blogger amy said...

We have thorny fruity vines, too, and I assume they're edible but because I don't know for sure what they are, I've never tried. Maybe I could get myself an expert out here!

5:16 PM  
Blogger Alwen said...

The majority of the native Rubus species are edible, or at least non-poisonous. The blackberries I can are not very tasty out of hand, but they're great after soaking for a couple of months in medium syrup!

5:24 PM  
Blogger Roxie said...

Out here on the left coast we have another hybrid called the Marion Berry. Bigger than a blackberry and not quite as intenselly flavored.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Virginia said...

I miss the blackberry bushes we had in Oregon. Even the dogs got into the act (and would eat blackberries until they got sick.) and were very good at avoiding the brambles with their mouths, but would get hopelessly stuck in their fur.

Mmm. summer.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Donna Lee said...

I agree with your assessment of blackberries/black raspberries. I've seen both in the stores around here and they're subtly different.

We have a mulberry tree (and you can guess how one can tell the birds eat mulberries!) and if we're lucky, we get a small bit of them before the birds get them all.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

The raspberries and blackberries I have seen growing wild are hollow in the centre. The thimbleberries fruit later and have white centres. The thimbleberries are larger and not as sweet, but they make nice pies.

3:35 PM  

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