Friday, August 14, 2009

Rubus Armeniacus

Probably the most commonly eaten blackberry, the highly invasive Rubus Armeniacus, also known as the Himalayan Blackberry, is considered a noxious weed in the State of Washington. Here in Whatcom County, the Himalayan Blackberry is listed as one of our ten most unwanted pests. In the rose family, the underside of the leaves are white and the berries, besides being delicious, can be used for dye and the roots boiled for a tea that can be used for diarrhea and menstrual pain. A shrubby weed native to Eurasia, the plant aggressively forms dense thickets that have become a thorn in the side of Mother Nature as they take over entire yards, stream channels and ditch banks, choking and shading out nearly all other vegetation in their way.
Yet we like them and each year anxiously watch for signs of their ripening fruit! With pails, boxes and buckets in hands, this is the season when hundreds, thousands of people are seen along the roadsides, streams and yards, anywhere those large patches of blackberry brambles happen to have taken over, picking those big juicy berries.It took three of us to harvest our container full - one armed with big pruning shears to cut away the long thorny branches that seemed to protect the huge clumps of ripe berries, one to pick the berries and one to entertain our dogs. Finding a list of 183 blackberry recipes on the Internet, it's fun to think of the options. Maybe we'll pick more!
I like knowing the source of the foods I eat. These berries, from a large clump of blackberry brambles in the yard of a pesticide-free property on the Trigg Road in Ferndale. After being carefully washed, sorted, mashed, and getting their seeds strained out, they were cooked down to make blackberry jam. Now they fill jars to be enjoyed another day.
Blackberries for jam.



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