Blackberries are semi-deciduous, scrambling shrubs with tangled, prickly stems that form impenetrable thickets several metres high.
Each berry can contain from 20 to 30 seeds. At the end of the blackberry season, there may be up to 13,000 seeds/m2 under a blackberry bush. Plants in dense shade will produce fewer seeds than those in open areas. Seedling survival rate is also considerably lower in shaded areas compared to areas with full sun.
The root system is the perennial part of the plant. It comprises a woody crown that can grow up to 20 cm wide with a main root that can grow to a depth of 4 m. Secondary roots grow horizontally from the crown for 30-60 cm, then grow down and shoot thin roots in all directions.Stems are known as canes and can grow up to 7 m long.
They can be erect, semi-erect, arching or trailing. With the exception of R. ulmifolius var. anoplothyrsus, the canes are covered in sharp prickles. Canes generally live for two years (biennial) but may live for longer. They may be green, purplish or red depending on their exposure to light. The first year canes (primocanes) root where they touch the ground, producing a daughter plant. In their second year, primocanes form buds which sprout in spring to produce short canes (floricanes) that terminate in a branched cluster (panicle) of flowers and fruit.Leaves generally occur alternately along canes, are compound (with three to five leaflets), and are dark green on top with a lighter green underside. L
eaflet veins and stalks are covered with short, curved prickles. Most leaves shed from the canes during winter except in warmer climates.
White or pink flowers 2-3 cm in diameter occur at the end of floricanes from late November to late February. Clusters of flowers are either cylinder or pyramid-shaped, and may change colour between budding and opening depending on the species. Blackberry is is mostly restricted to areas with temperate climates (warm summers, cool winters) with an annual rainfall of at least 700 mm (regardless of altitude), but plants can grow in lower rainfall areas when other environmental conditions are favourable (such as along the banks of watercourses).
Blackberries are tasty and nutrient dense fruit which stores a fine range of nourishing components. Vitamins provided by blackberries include vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and vitamin K (phylloquinone). Mineral wealth of blackberries include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. Blackberries are also a good source of amino acids and essential dietary fiber without offering any harmful cholesterol.
Benefits of blackberry which provides respite in various health conditions have been discussed as under:
Antioxidant potential: Blackberries contain a profuse amount of powerful antioxidant which protects the body in multiple ways. Components such as phenolic acids, flavonoids and flavonols particularly anthocyanosides present in blackberries work against the harmful oxygen free molecules and counteract their action. This protective radical scavenging activity protects the body from a range of diseases caused as consequence of oxidative damage which may be the underlying cause of many fatal conditions.
Anti-cancer properties: Blackberry fruit is effective against the development of cancer including lung cancer, colon cancer and esophageal cancer. The micronutrients present in blackberries exert chemopreventive effect and prevents the proliferation of malignant cells. Various scientific research conducted on blackberries have advocated this fact and have attributed the anti-cancer activity to the abundance of anthocyanins and other phytochemicals such as ellagic acid and cyaniding-3-glucoside which inhibits tumor growth and metastasis.Defense against endothelial dysfunction: Blackberries provides protection against the endothelial dysfunction which is characterized by the abnormal functioning of inner lining of blood vessels. As suggested by scientific studies, it contains useful components such as cyaniding-3-O-glucoside which fights the oxidative activity and helps in the normalizing multiple critical factors implicated in such conditions. It helps in reducing the DNA damage and guards against vascular failure.blackberryinfoCognitive benefits: Blackberry also extends its beneficial effect in improving the cognitive functions of the body. Research studies have suggested that polyphenolic components present in blackberries help retard the age-related decline in motor and cognitive activity attributing to their super antioxidant power. Regular consumption of blackberry may prove useful in enhancing the memory performance and improves behavioral and neuronal functions.Improved digestive health: Blackberries are a source of both insoluble and soluble fiber essential for the optimum functioning of digestive system. Insoluble fiber in blackberries encourages easy and better absorption of water in the large intestine and adds bulk to the stools. This aids in regular bowel movements, freedom from constipation and apt digestive health.Healthy heart: Richness of flavonols such as anthocyanins in blackberries makes it a heart friendly fruit. Other useful components such as magnesium and fiber content present in blackberries prevent the arteries from getting blocked and stimulates smooth blow of blood. This reduces the risk of various heart diseases such as stroke, atherosclerosis and maintains cardiovascular health. Magnesium content in blackberries also helps in regulating the blood pressure and prevents cardiac arrhythmia and irregular contraction.Immunity booster: Blackberries help in improving the immune system of the body attributing to the presence of phytoestrogens, vitamins and minerals. Regular consumption of blackberries helps fight various pathogens and protects from body from infections and other fatal illnesses.Aids in weight management: Owing to very low amounts of sugar, blackberries assist in healthy weight management. Effective cleaning of the bowels owing to the fiber content in blackberries and very few amounts of calories makes it an excellent snack during the weight loss attempts.Healthy bones: Blackberry contains vital minerals such as magnesium and calcium which are essential for maintain healthy bones. Calcium strengthens the bones and magnesium content in the blackberries facilitates the absorption of calcium and potassium in the body. In addition to this, phosphorus mineral present in blackberries aids in regulation of calcium and assists in building strong bones and contributes in proper cellular functioning.Skin care: Blackberry can serve you as a delicious aid in maintaining beautiful skin. It is packed with multiple skin friendly nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E and other potent antioxidants. Vitamin E present in blackberry helps in maintaining the health of skin fats and prevents the skin from wrinkles. Apart from protecting the skin from oxidative damage, vitamin C present in blackberry is also responsible for the formation and strengthening of collagen structure which is the basis of connective tissue and aids in keeping the skin toned and tightened.Healthy eyes: Blackberry is useful for maintaining healthy eyes. Regular consumption of blackberries helps in protecting the eyes from ultraviolet radiations attributing to the presence of lutein. Lutein forms protective pigment in the area behind the retina, also known as macula and prevents it from the damage caused by oxidative stress and high wavelength light radiations. Furthermore, anthocyanosides and vitamin content present in blackberries enhances the vision and protect the eyes from various diseases such as macular degeneration, cataract and night blindness.Normal blood clotting: Blackberries contains good amount of vitamin K which helps in normal clotting of blood. It helps in preventing excessive bleeding from even slight injuries and aids in healing wounds. Vitamin K present in blackberries is also essential for protein modification and plays an important role in protecting bones from osteoporosis.Useful in pregnancy: Blackberry may prove beneficial for pregnant women. As a source of natural folate, blackberry contributes in optimum growth of the cells and tissues and helps reduce the risk of birth defects in the babies. Folate is anyway a critical nutrient required for better cellular functioning for all age groups. Vitamin C and other antioxidants help boost the disease fighting power of the expectant mother and presence of essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorous in blackberry strengthens the bones and contribute in keeping her healthy. Besides it has a refreshing taste which makes it a healthy option for a quick snack during pregnancy.Culinary usage: Blackberry can be added to fresh fruit salads, baked goods such as tarts, cakes and pies or to prepare jellies or preserves. They can also be combined with other fruits to prepare fruit salsa which can be served with crisps and chips. Blackberry serves as a delicious topping over various desserts including ice creams. Blackberries are also used in the preparation of wines and are available in canned and dried form as well.Usage of blackberry leaves: Leaves of blackberry plant have been found effective in curing diarrhea and dysentery since the earlier times and also have been a topic of interest for modern research. This attributes to the abundance of astringent tannins in the herb which helps control such conditions in the digestive tract. Another benefit of astringent tannins in blackberry leaves is their healing effecting on the wounds. External application of tincture or infusion made from blackberry leaves helps in the constriction of blood vessels and cure small injuries. The astringent qualities of blackberry leaf may also prove useful in soothing sore throat and treating hemorrhoids.