This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
1. Bramble (Rubus rusticanus, Merc). 2. Barren Strawberry (I'otentilla sterilis, Garcke). 3. Dog Rose (Rosa canina, L.). 4. Crab Apple (Pyrus Malus, L.). 5. Hawthorn (Cratcegus Oxyacantha, L.). 6. Bryony (Bryonia dioica, Jacq.).
This Blackberry has the shrub habit. The stem is prickly, arching, prostrate. It may be hairless, bluish-green, or have prickles, bristles, and gland-tipped hairs. There are no suckers, the stem is round or angular. The barren stems are more or less erect, or arch and root from a point near the extremity, giving rise to fresh plants. The down is closely appressed. The prickles are equal, and are bent downwards, with an enlarged, flattened base. The leaves are ternate or quinate, with 3 or 5 leaflets. They are hairless, with fine hard felt below, with the margins bent downwards. The leaflets are leathery, convex, rough, stalked, overlapping or not, inversely egg-shaped, rhomboid, coarsely irregularly toothed, dark-green above, paler below (hence discolor). The terminal leaflet is inversely egg-shaped, blunt-pointed.
Photo. R L J. Horn - Bramble (rubus Fruticosus (= Rusticanus, Merc.))
The flowers are pink or white, in terminal racemes, with corymblike or long lateral branches. The panicle is long, narrow. The petals are pink. The calyx is finely woolly-felted. The anther-stalks and styles are purple, the stamens longer than the styles. The anthers are green. The drupes or stone fruits are black or reddish-purple, small, numerous, acid. The flower has a concave receptacular tube which surrounds the base of the pistil. The pistil is made up of numerous carpels on a conical receptacle. The cluster of drupes is an etaerio.
The plant is frequently 10 ft. high. It is in flower from July to September. It is perennial, propagated by layers, the branches arching over and rooting again; the branch contracts and the tip is drawn into the earth, whilst the original branch dies very frequently, and the new plant takes its place.
The flowers are large and conspicuous, expanding widely. The petals when outspread are nearly flat, being large, and many flowers form a panicle. The anthers and stigma ripen together. The stamens are numerous, but in spite of this the honey exposed on the disk is accessible to short-lipped insects, as they spread out. The outer anthers are the first to open, and they turn their anthers upwards. The stigma ripens together with these outer stamens. In spite of this homogamous condition the flowers are cross-pollinated, as the stamens are spreading. Insects in visiting the flower may touch either the anthers at the border or the stigma in the centre. The inner stamens when they open are erect, and may touch the outer stigmas and cause self-pollination.
The Blackberry is visited by many insects: Hymenoptera, Apis, Bombus, Macropis, Andrena, Halictus, Ccelioxys, Nomada, Diphysis, Osmia, Stelis, Prosopis, Crabro, Oxybelus, Anemophila, Cerceris, Sargus, Chrysomyia, Empis, Ascia, Syritta, Eristalis, Helophilus, Chrysotoxum, Volucella, Rhingia, Physocephala, Tipula, Byturus, Diacanthius, Limonius, Trichius, Te/ephorus, Malachius, (Edemera, Clytus, Leptura, Pachyta, Strangalia, Meligethes, Argynnis, Pieris cratcegi, P. napi, Hesperia, etc.
The fruit is a drupe or drupelet, on a convex receptacle, which is eaten and dispersed by birds, etc, and so dispersed by animal agency.
Blackberries grow on a variety of soils, but in general are most addicted to a sandy or stony subsoil, which is derived from the older rocks of granitic or arenaceous origin.
The fungi which infest the Blackberry and Raspberry are: Sphceru-lina intermixta, Phragmidium rubi-idcei, Coniothyrium tumcefaciens, Gleosporium venetum, Cercospora rubi.
They are galled by Lasioptera rubi, Diastrophus rubi, and other fungi infesting them are Phragmidium violaceum and Uredo mulleri.
The beetles Dasytes niger, Anthonomus rubi, Batophila rubi, Meligethes rufipes, Byturus tomentosus, Dascillus cervinus, Dryophilus anobioides, Hymenoptera of the genera Mutilla, Trypoxylon, Spilomena, Pemphredon, Passa/cecus, Psen, Crabro, Odynerus, Prosopis, Ha/ictus, Andrena, Ceratina, Coelioxys, Bombus, and Emphytus, the Lepidoptera Green Hairstreak (Thecla rubi), Fox Moth (Lasiocampa rubi), Peach Blossom (Thyatira baits), Nepticula fulvella, and many others, the Homoptera Lecanium caprece, Pediopsis tibialis, Typhlocyba tenerrima, the Heteroptera Palomenes prasiua, Lopus gothicus, L. sulcatus, Dicyphus constrictus, and Lasioptera rubi visit it for food in one form or another.
Rubus, Pliny, was the Latin name for bramble, and the specific Latin name, rusticanus, denotes its wild nature.
The Bramble is called Brimmle, Broomles, Brumble, Brumbleberries, Brumbley-berry Bush, Brummel, Brummelkites, Brymble, Bullbeef, Bumbleberries, Bumblekites, Bumly Kites, Bummell, Cock-bramble, Cock-brumble, Country Lawyers, Ewe Bramble, Gaitberry, Gaiter-tree, Garten Berries, Hawk's Bill Bramble, Lady's Garters, Land Briars, Lawyers, Mooches, Mulberry, Mulberry Bramble, Scaldberry, Thet-thorne, Thevethorn, Thilf.
In regard to the name Blackberry a writer says: "The fine weather which is generally experienced at the latter end of September and the beginning of October, when the blackberries ripen, is called in Hants Blackberry summer." "Blake-berries that on breres growen " (William of Palerne).
As to Garten Berries, to gartane is to bind with a garter, and the name may mean the berries of the binding shrub, Blackberry twigs naturally binding other shrubs together, and being, indeed, sometimes expressly used for that purpose. This suggestion is borne out by the Roxburghshire name, Lady's Garters. They are called Lawyers because " When once they gets a holt an ye, ye doant easy get shut of 'em ". The name Scaldberry was given because of their property of giving scalds or sore heads to children, and to scare children from eating them they were thus called. The name Brumble Kites is from the " rumbling and bumbling caused in the bellies of children who eat its fruit too greedily ".
But bumble is a contraction of bramble and brumble. In the Forest of Dean to " mooche blackberries", or simply to " mooch ", means to pick them. The devil was supposed to put his cloven foot on them on Michaelmas Dav,1 after which it was unlucky to eat them.
1 The leaves then show a serpentine marking due to a larva which lines them. Hence perhaps the reason.
It is said that a farmer's wife, near Arundel, used to make a quantity of blackberry jam, and not having the usual amount brought she asked a woman to let her children gather some more, to which the reply was, "Ma'am, don't you know this is the nth October?" "Yes," she said. " Bless me, ma'am, and you ask me to let my children go out black-berrying? Why, I thought everyone knew that the devil went round on the 10th October and spat on all the blackberries, and that if any person were to eat on the 11th he or someone belonging to him would either die or fall into great trouble before the year was out," was the further reply. The devil is said to throw his cloak over blackberries and make them unwholesome, and in Ireland to stamp on them.
The fruit was said to drive away serpents. To dream of passing through places covered with brambles foretells misfortune, and if you are pricked secret enemies will injure you in your friends' eyes, and if blood is drawn you lose money, while if you are unhurt you will triumph. An early harvest is predicted if brambles bloom early. Its mode of growth made it a type for lowliness, and an emblem of remorse from the fierceness with which a passer-by is grasped. The Blackberry is one of the plants thought to have made up the crown of thorns.
Bramble leaves are used for scalds in Cornwall, 9 leaves being dipped in spring water, and this charm repeated three times:
"There came three angels out of the East, One brought fire, and two brought frost; Out fire and in frost In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost".
In the same country warts were cured by the first blackberries of the season.
It was said to arise thus: "The cormorant was once a wool merchant. He entered into partnership with the bramble and bat, and freighted a large ship with wool. She was wrecked, and the firm became bankrupt. Since that disaster the bat skulks about all midnight to avoid his creditors, the cormorant is for ever diving into the deep to discover its foundered vessel, while the bramble seizes hold of every passing sheep to make up his loss by stealing the wool."
The fruit is largely utilized for making jams, tarts, pies, and even wine, and is quite a regular autumn industry in the country districts. The stems are also used in thatching for binding the roof together, and making straw articles and mats.
Essential Specific Characters: 95. Rubus fruticosus (= rusticanus, Merc). - Stem prostrate, arched, angular, prickly, with stellate hairs, leaves quinate, downy, white below, Mowers pink, calyx downy, in terminal panicle, fruit a drupe, small, tart.