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Introduction to Another Rubus Species: Northern Dewberry

I’ve written several articles about various plants in the Rubus genus. Rubus is the genus commonly referred to as blackberries or brambles. Every species in the genus is technically a blackberry, though they are often known by other names. Thus, raspberries, salmonberries, and thimbleberries are all blackberries, though they aren’t often called blackberries. Here is another member of the clan, called the northern or common dewberry (Rubus flagellaris).

Like other blackberries, the fruits aren’t berries, they are aggregate fruits. Dewberries are noticeably blackberries, though. The leaves are in three’s and occasionally five’s and the leaves and canes have thorns like both raspberries and the more commonly called blackberry species. The leaves are longer and narrower than in many other blackberry species.

The canes generally grow from 8-20 feet long from a strong taproot. The ripe fruit is purplish-black in color and tends to be smaller and rounder than common blackberries. The flavor is somewhat tarter than that of many blackberry species, which makes it ideally suited for pies and jams.

Despite the common name, northern dewberries are native to central and eastern United States, Mexico, and Canada, from Texas, Oklahoma, the east coast states, Nebraska, Kansas, the Great Lakes area, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and in Mexico in Sonora, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, and Coahuila.

This is an important blackberry species for wildlife, forming both shelter and food for many species. The flowers are highly attractive to North American Honey Bees, too.

Although it has some differences as compared to the more commonly named blackberries, this is a species that most people in the south and east are probably acquainted with and many people simply know the species as blackberries.

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Written by Rex Trulove

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