With more than 300 different microspecies recognised in the UK and visible across our countryside, it may just be time for us to bramble on about brambles.
Primarily known for their most-common fruits, blackberries and raspberries, brambles also produce lesser known fruits such as dewberries, boysenberries and loganberries. If the fruits aren’t enough of a giveaway you can also spot a bramble by its thorny, arching stems that grow up to 2m or more, or their distinctive pink or white flowers.
Five petals and many stamens? The name’s Fruticosus. Rubus Fruticosus – otherwise known as the common blackberry.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, strong ale brewed from blackberries, malt and hops was incredibly popular and can still be enjoyed today! Herbal teas in traditional medicine have also been known to incorporate brambles over the course of history. We’ll probably stick to the tea instead of the old Guernsey Folk remedy of passing an infected limb through a wreath of bramble runners 9 times a day, for 9 days straight, whilst also fasting!
Nowadays blackberries are more usually found in a whole heap of delicious dishes like pies, crumbles, wines, jams, jellies and even vinegar! But it’s not just humans that these delicious fruits attract. Brambles are a huge food source for honey bees and bumblebees alongside larger animals such as deer, foxes and badgers.
However, be sure to steer clear of blackberries from September 29 or superstition says Lucifer will curse you with incredibly bad luck. Irish folktales also tell us that eating the cursed berries after the end of September will bring about the mischief of an Irish spirit known as Púca – perhaps better known as Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – who can appear as a bird, dog, horse or goat just to cause you trouble!
Past superstitions also say that cold snaps in May are because of the blooming blackberries. It even has a name – a Blackberry Winter. So don’t blame it on the sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, and don’t blame it on the good times. Blame it on the bramble!