Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wednesday's Wildflower: Blackberries

Native Blackberries, Rubus spp. 
Submitted by Tom Palmer, Hernando Chapter

Blackberry Flower, Rubus spp. Tom Palmer, Hernando Chapter



The lovely white blooms of Florida’s various species of native blackberries (Rubus sp.) in late winter and early spring offer plenty of food for wildlife ranging from Florida black bears to songbirds in late spring.

Bee visiting a Dewberry Flower,
Photo by Donna Bollenbach
The flowers attract bees and other pollinators.

Wild Blackberries
photo by Donna Bollenbach
Blackberries are common in dense thorny patches along roadsides and in natural areas throughout north and central Florida. The fruit is composed of drupelets that vary in the sizes of the drupelets and the size of the fruits. Although fruiting in central Florida typically occurs in late May or early June, I have observed some fruiting as early as late March.






For people, the flowers offer the promise of cobblers and pies at Fourth of July picnics.

Any blackberries you harvest can be eaten fresh or frozen for later use in pies or cobblers and processed to make jams or jellies.

Here’s a recipe for blackberry cobbler from Farm Journal’s Pie Cookbook
Blackberry Pie, courtesy of Wikipedia
  1. Put the berries in a 10 x 6 x 2 cooking dish. 
  2. Mix 1 cup of boiling water with 1 cup of sugar and one tablespoon of cornstarch and pour the mixture over the berries.
  3. Cover the berries with soft dough.
  4. Sift 1 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1-1/2  teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cut in ¼  cup of shortening until the mixture resembles cornmeal.. Stir in ½ cup of milk and spread the mixture over the fruit.
  5. Cook in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. 

Enjoy

In addition to the native species of blackberries, a number of commercial cultivars have been developed to provide larger berries at Florida farms. Some farmers offer U-pick opportunities to the public. 

Tom Palmer, a Lakeland Ledger reporter since 1980, retired in 2016. He is  rightly described "as a walking encyclopedia of everything environmental. And it's not just a work thing. Palmer truly loves the outdoors and often spends weekends birding, searching for the exotic or cleaning trash from lakefronts and other areas. Some of that community involvement arises through his volunteer work with the Ridge Rangers and for the Great American Cleanup." We are thankful to have Tom as a member of the Hernando Chapter of FNPS. 


More Florida Native Blackberry facts: 

Dewberry blossom,
photo by Donna Bollenbach
Family: Rosaceae
Native Species: Rubus cunefolius,  Sand blackberry; Rubus pensilvanicus, Sawtooth blackberry; Rubis trivialis, Southern blackberry or Dewberry
Fruits: Native blackberry fruits are smaller, but those who have eaten them will tell you they have more flavor than cultivated varieties. 
When is a berry not a berry? Answer: When it is a blackberry, a strawberry or a raspberry.  Scientifically speaking, blackberries are not true berries, but aggregate fruits, or fruits that develop from multiple ovaries of a single flower. So, what fruits are true berries? The answer might surprise you. Read more about it on FoodReference.com

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