Department of Horticulture New York State Horticulture Study Guide for Youth 4-H Logo


Flowers &
Indoor Plants

Fruits & Nuts



Special Topics



Cornell University

Rubus sp.

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What about it?

Blackberries grow throughout the world except in desert regions, but are most numerous in the temperate parts of the northern hemisphere. Although blackberry species are native to many parts of the world, little domestication and commercial use has been made of them except in North America and Europe. Early settlers in North America (and some modern gardeners as well!) considered blackberries to be an annoying and persistent weed, and their primary interest was in finding ways to destroy the pest. Nevertheless, there is evidence that fruit was harvested from wild stands and used as food and in the making of wine. As forests were cleared in the westward migration of settlers, native species of blackberries spread into the cleared areas and a massive natural breeding program was established.

What is it used for?

Blackberries have fruit that can be eaten fresh, canned, frozen. They are used in pies and cobblers, processed into jams or jellies, or fermented to make wines and brandies.

Where does it grow? How do we grow it?

Blackberries need air and water drainage. To insure the drainage of cold air, blackberries should be planted on sloping sites or level elevated areas. Planting on elevated areas should also insure good water drainage. Blackberries also do best in full sunlight. Plant blackberries in the spring. Space the rows 10 to 12 feet apart. Generally, plants of erect, thorny cultivars are set 4 feet apart in the row.

What are its primary problems?

Blackberries are susceptible to crown gall, cane blight, orange and yellow rusts, gray mold fruit rot, and viruses. Insects that cause widespread damage to blackberries include aphids, raspberry crown borer, and Japanese beetles. Aphids are a particular problem because they can spread several different viruses amoung blackberry plants.

How do we harvest and store it?

Blackberries are a very perishable fruit and must be harvested and stored with the utmost care if they are to remain in good condition. Fruits should be picked as frequently as every second or third day. Pick berries by gently lifting with thumb and fingers.

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Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.