Blackberry bushes refer to hundreds of species of bushes in the family and genus of Rosaceae Rubus. Such bushes are often lovingly cultivated for their fruit, a sweet, flavorful and nutritious fruit that is not technically a berry, but is instead called an aggregate fruit. On the other hand, the aggressiveness of blackberry bushes can be the bane of gardeners or landscapers who are uninterested in growing these plants. They spread easily and most forms have sharp thorns that make them very difficult to remove. Their tenacious quality means taking severe measures to try to remove them from an area and some gardeners simply let the plants win, only attempting to limit their size by cutting them back as much as possible each year.
It could be said that blackberry bushes have covered much of the earth for a very long time. Native species can be found in North and South America, Europe and Asia. The largest areas of commercial cultivation occur in North America, and places like Oregon in the US and some parts of Mexico are now principal producers of commercially sold berries. Many people scoff at purchasing the berries in the store, though, because so many locations have species growing wild. In mid to late summer, lucky folks with an eye on berrying can do some picking in parks, on many roadsides, and elsewhere. The only trouble with picking the berries wild is they may have been exposed to pesticides or sprays unapproved for use with food substances.
Since blackberry bushes establish themselves well in all but the coldest regions, another choice is to purchase a few plants and grow them for berries at home. Numerous species have been developed that make taking care of the plant and picking of the fruit much simpler. For example, there are several thornless varieties of these plants that are easy to train and grow on canes so that the bushes remain well organized and accessible. A thornless variety is definitely a plus because a blackberry thorn is a pointed and vicious affair that can pierce the skin and catch on clothing, and many species of blackberry bushes are lined with thorns on their branches.
The principal trick of growing blackberry bushes is preventing their spread beyond what is desired. Growing the plants in rows and on canes is one way to keep them organized, but the bushes usually will require pruning regularly. Raspberry bushes, which are close relatives to blackberries, tend to be a little less work-intensive to grow.
It can certainly be worth it to cultivate blackberry bushes because the fruit is a nutritional powerhouse, with lots of important vitamins like C, A, folic acid, and K, and additional things like beta carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, and lutein. In most regions, the fruit is ripe when it is colored a dark purple or black, which usually occurs in mid to late summer. Cultivated related fruits like raspberry may have two cycles of fruiting, producing berries in early summer and in fall.