The blackberry is an edible fruit produced by many species in the genus Rubus in the family Rosaceae, hybrids among these species within the subgenus Rubus, and hybrids between the subgenera Rubus and Idaeobatus. The taxonomy of the blackberries has historically been confused because of hybridization and apomixis, so that species have often been grouped together and called species aggregates. For example, the entire subgenus Rubus has been called the Rubus fruticosus aggregate, although the species R. fruticosus is considered a synonym of R. plicatus.
Cultivated blackberries are notable for their significant contents of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K (table). A 100 gram serving of raw blackberries supplies 43 calories and 5 grams of dietary fiber or 25% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) (table). In 100 grams, vitamin C and vitamin K contents are 25% and 19% DV, respectively, while other essential nutrients are low in content (table).
Blackberry leaves are food for certain caterpillars; some grazing mammals, especially deer, are also very fond of the leaves. Caterpillars of the concealer moth Alabonia geoffrella have been found feeding inside dead blackberry shoots. When mature, the berries are eaten and their seeds dispersed by several mammals, such as the red fox and the Eurasian badger, as well as by small birds.
Blackberries grow wild throughout most of Europe. They are an important element in the ecology of many countries, and harvesting the berries is a popular pastime. However, the plants are also considered a weed, sending down roots from branches that touch the ground, and sending up suckersfrom the roots. In some parts of the world without native blackberries, such as in Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and the Pacific Northwest of North America, some blackberry species, particularly Rubus armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry) and Rubus laciniatus (evergreen blackberry), are naturalisedand considered an invasive species and a serious weed.
Blackberry fruits are red before they are ripe, leading to an old expression that “blackberries are red when they’re green”.
In various parts of the United States, wild blackberries are sometimes called “black-caps”, a term more commonly used for black raspberries, Rubus occidentalis.
As there is evidence from the Iron Age Haraldskær Woman that she consumed blackberries some 2,500 years ago, it is reasonable to conclude that blackberries have been eaten by humans over thousands of years.
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