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What Is a Bramble?

Brambles typically refer to thorny shrubs that produce berries composed of small drupelets.
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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 August 2014
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Although used colloquially to refer to just about any prickly bush or shrub, the word bramble actually has a specific scientific meaning. In botany, bramble refers to a genus of plants in the rose family: the genus Rubus, the name of which comes from the Latin word for “red.” Plants that are properly called bramble by this definition include blackberries, boysenberries, dewberries, loganberries, and raspberries, although in England, the name usually refers to wild blackberries. Brambles both grow wild and are cultivated, with a number of hybrids and cultivars.

The stems of the bramble are called canes and characteristically have prickles or thorns, although “spineless” varieties have been bred. They first bear fruit the second year after being planted. Although the fruits of the brambles are called berries, they are technically not berries but drupelets in aggregate. A drupelet is one of the little bumps that make up the fruit. One interesting difference between blackberries and raspberries is that when the two fruits are picked, the ripe raspberry will be hollow inside, with the “receptacle” — as the central portion is called — remaining with the plant, while the receptacle stays attached to the picked blackberry fruit.

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Red raspberries are indigenous to both North America and Asia Minor, and the existence of wild raspberries on Mt. Ida was recorded by the historian Pliny. Black raspberries are indigenous to North America only. Blackberries are indigenous to North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Loganberries and boysenberries are hybrids of combined blackberry-red raspberry origins.

In 2002, Russia led the world in raspberry production with 24 percent of the worldwide crop, with Serbia & Montenegro a close second with 23 percent. Other producers in the top ten included the United States, Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Hungary, Canada, UK, and France, in order of amount produced. The United States produced 13 percent, which corresponds to 173 million lb (78,471,480 kg), with nearly all production occurring in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington.

Propagation of bramble plants can be undertaken in several ways. One way is root cuttings. If that doesn’t work, tip layering is used. Suckering and leafy stem cuttings are also used, with tissue culture being undertaken less often.

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