This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Most horticulturists are familiar with this plant (the Rubus odoratus of botanists), as it is very commonly seen in shrubbery borders, where it is introduced for the sake of its very showy flowers. I do not think, however, that any person ever saw it fruit under cultivation. I have had the plant under my observation cultivated both here and in other countries, and I never saw a berry unless in a wild state.
The improvements which have been noticed in the common blackberry, lead one naturally to look for like results in other native fruits. There seems to me no reason why entirely new races of fruits may not be obtained from our own stocks, the original of all our cultivated fruits being but improvements from the native stocks. Such races would, in all probability, prove far more easily cultivated, and return more certain results, than those now in existence. This has, to a great extent, been shown to be the case in the matter of the grape; and cultivators are now making skilful efforts in the attempt to improve it still further.
In a trip to the woods in Montgomery County, in this State, recently, it occurred to me whether the flowering raspberry could not be made to bear fruit under cultivation. There must certainly be some reason why they do not bear fruit in such a case, and probably no reason why that obstacle to its use as a fruit cannot be removed. If so, it would certainly be very valuable, for, in its wild state, it is far from being an inferior fruit; to my taste, at least, it is superior to the American Raspberry, or Thimbleberry (Rubus occidentalis), and, on its native rocks, as I then saw them, it bore fruit in greater abundance than I ever saw the best cultivated raspberry do. I think that, by raising them from seed, a variety might be obtained that would bear berries when cultivated, and the foundation thus be laid for still greater improvement. I am the more inclined to the belief that such experiments would eventually be successful, because some of our new raspberries occasionally show a tendency to produce staminate flowers, and I have no doubt the raspberry will, after as many generations of seedlings have been produced as the strawberry has gone through, be as perfectly polygamous as that fruit is now known to be.
Would it not be worth while for our horticultural societies to offer premiums for the best specimens of our blackberries, and American and flowering raspberries ? If the fruit for competition were even obtained from the woods and wild places, it would have the effect of stimulating attention to the subject.
[The subject being one of interest, we called the attention of a botanical friend to it, and he has not only supplied additional information, but has forwarded us a wood-cut (made by himself, as an amateur), and we append both__Ed].
J, J. Smith, Esq. - Dear Sir: In reply to jours of the 11th inst., permit me to copy from the Flora of North America (by Torrey & Gray), as the description accords so well with my own observations, and it may be proper, however well known, that it should accompany the cut.'