The scientific name for Blackberries is Rubus fruticosus. They are a round fruit characterised by a collection of small, shiny, black drupelets around a central white core. Blackberry crops are semi-deciduous, with tangled prickly stems that form to make a dense shrub that can grow several metres high. The root system is the perennial part of the plant.
Blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of fruits. They are a rich source of Vitamin C providing approximately 70% of that found in 100g serve of orange. They are an excellent source of fibre providing 6.1g per 100g. Both have been shown to help reduce the risks of certain cancers.
Blackberries are moderate in energy with approximately 211kJ per 100g, low in carbohydrates and like most fruits have no fat. They also provide a rich source of Potassium, and some Folate, Beta Carotene (Vitamin A precursor) and Xanthophyll. They contain a high level of Anthocyanins which give berries their deep colour and work as antioxidants to help reduce the damage of free radicals in the body
Evergreen blackberries contain ellagic acid a phenolic compound shown to have anti-carcinogen, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
Rubus fruticosus species are declared Class 4 weeds under the NSW Noxious Weeds Act 1993. The growth of the plant must be managed in a matter to reduce its propagation and reproduction. All Rubus fruticosus species are actually banned from sale in Australia. However, a number of cultivars that can still be sold include Black Satin, Chehalem, Chester Thornless, Dirksen Thornless, Loch Ness, Murrindindi, Silvan, Smoothstem and Thornfree.
Blackberry shrubs overrun about 9 million hectares of land in Australia. It is mostly restricted to areas with temperate climates (warm summers, cool winters) with an annual rainfall of at least 700 mm (regardless of altitude), but plants can grow in lower rainfall areas.
Blackberries are widely enjoyed eaten fresh, used in cooking or in the production of preserves. Blackberry flowers produce nectar that bees can use to make honey and Blackberry leaves can be used to make herbal teas, medicinal products for chest ailments, or astringents for skin care.
As with other berries such as blueberries, blackberries should not be washed until you are ready to use them. Remove any soft / mouldy berries and store in the fridge.
Check out Regina Weedon’s Yoghurt Berry Clam Cakes recipe that uses blackberries.
Source: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia & New Zealand 2006; NUTTAB 2010.
PLEASE NOTE: Fruits & vegetables in season may vary depending on where you live. Check with your friendly greengrocer.