NZ Lifestyle Block - - Tales of a Coutry Vet -

Why is it a weed?

Es­tab­lishes in open spa­ces, smoth­ers low grow­ing species along stream and bush edges

Where is it found?

Most of New Zealand

Is it toxic?

No, it’s de­li­cious IT’S HARD to say it’s a weed when black­berry ( Rubus fru­ti­co­sus, also known as bram­ble) pro­duces such a de­li­cious ed­i­ble fruit. It’s the ugly duck­ling of the rose fam­ily, along with the rasp­berry, lo­gan­berry and wild rose species.

Black­berry orig­i­nated in north­ern hemi­sphere tem­per­ate re­gions and has the abil­ity to eas­ily es­tab­lish in open spa­ces, along bush lines and wa­ter­ways. This densely-formed shrub can grow up to 6m in length, trail­ing along the ground. Its ex­ten­sive rhi­zome sys­tem means it has the abil­ity to send roots down from its ground-hug­ging branches and can also send suck­ers up from the roots. This rhi­zome sys­tem is dif­fi­cult to de­stroy and is usu­ally un­af­fected by slash­ing or graz­ing.

If given the chance, it pro­duces her­maph­ro­dite flow­ers in spring. These are white to light pur­ple in colour and ap­prox­i­mately 2-3cm in di­am­e­ter with five petals. Most shoots on wild black­berry plants you’ll find de­velop pretty nasty thorns which can be tricky to nav­i­gate. If you’re a black­berry lover, it’ss much eas­ier to grow thorn-free va­ri­eties. The fruit is just as de­li­cious, and in most cases, much big­ger and sweeter.

Black­berry is not picky when it comes to es­tab­lish­ment. Seed dis­tri­bu­tion of­ten oc­curs through birds, with the abil­ity to es­tab­lish in any soil of any fer­til­ity level. The weed does have a pref­er­ence of welldrain­ing soil.

Black­ber­ries aren’t toxic to your beloved pooch or de­voted moggy – both species have been known to eat black­ber­ries di­rectly off the plant, and the only po­ten­tial is­sue is the berry be­com­ing lodged in the nasal pas­sage.

How­ever, when it comes to woolly sheep, they can eas­ily be­come hooked on the sharp barbs so it’s of­ten bet­ter to fence offf black­berry if you must graze sheep in the same area.

How to con­trol black­berry

Black­berry as a seedling is quite ap­peal­ing to deer, sheep, goats and cat­tle, and these an­i­mals can be used in an ef­fec­tive weed con­trol strat­egy.

If you need to use chem­i­cals, the best time to spray is when the plants are in full leaf, but be­fore April and the first frosts. Her­bi­cides that con­trol black­berry in­clude met­sul­furon, tri­clopyr and pi­clo­ram mixes, and glyphosate. Make sure you talk to your lo­cal farm store to get the best ad­vice for con­trol­ling black­berry on your prop­erty.

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