Tuesday, August 03, 2010

In Search Of The Wild Thorns - Black Raspberry

Black Raspberries getting big.......

Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I spent a couple of hours in our black raspberry patches. They surround our homestead. I tried for years to rid us of them and we have been successful in those areas. Every now and then one will try to come back. If you let it get started before you know it you will be surrounded again. It is a weed to some. But it is also a very good food to eat and to use in your natural medicine chest. Not only for the berries, but for the tea you can make from the leaves.

So plentiful this year that there is enough for the birds & for us!

The black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis L.) is a shrub that grows with arching canes which root at their tips. The stems are covered with prickles that are curved. Leaves have a whitish color underneath. The bush is covered with white flowers from April through July. The flowers give off a scent, that to me, is the rich smell of spring. I love that scent! My cats, Patches and Hobo come in at night scented from the brambles they spent the day in. Heavenly! I really think they should bottle it. 

More berries coming..............

The berries themselves are a dark purplish black color and usually are ripening and ready to pick from July through September. You will see white hair rows growing between the dark drupelets. It has always seemed to me that the berry bushes are alive...........not alive like in the plant world.......but in the human world. If you try to get in there to get a berry or to cut the canes to thin or clean out an area, the other bushes will grab a hold of you. If you do manage to rid your area of the bushes, you will have bloody cuts and deep large scratches to show for your effort. 

They grow very thickly together!
Black raspberries are good for many more things than just making it into jam, jelly, preserves or juice. It is a medicinal plant and was used for many ailments by the Native Americans. My Medicinal Plants and Herbs book says that the root is a good astringent tea used for diarrhea, dysentery, stomach pain, gonorrhea, back pain and used as a "female tonic", as well as a blood tonic for boils. The leaf tea is a good wash for sores, ulcers and boils. In Germany, they approved of the leaf tea for diarrhea and mild inflammation of the mouth and throat. It is an astringent because of the tannins in both leaf and the root. 

Out back along our forest path
Here are some blackberry recipes that I found online and I love to make these special desserts for my husband. It just seems to give me a good feeling to make good food using the berries I pick right around our homestead. Check some out!

Our side yard right near the house full of berry bushes

When you are picking be sure to look under the leaves. As the berries under the leaves are shaded, and those are usually plump and juicy not having the sun dry them out. My husband climbed in among those nasty thorns to pick the fattest and juiciest berries. The lure of the BEST berries is always in the inside circle of tight bushes! If you can penetrate that circle you have gotten the prize!  When we sat in the evening munching on our snack of fresh blackberries it seemed to be well worth the fight of those brambles.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
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