Blackberry Time: Midsummer to Early FallWritten May 21, 2013, published in June 2013, all photos by Kathleen Sayce
|Himalayan blackberries are in full flower by mid summer, and continue flowering until early fall; fruits stop accumulating sugar by late September.|
The starting species:Pacific blackberry grows naturally in the Pacific Northwest, and is a low-growing, sprawling vine. Fruits usually ripen in midsummer over a few short weeks, and are small and intensely flavored. Unusual among plants in the Pacific Northwest, Pacific blackberries have separate male and female plants; in botanical terms this is 'imperfect.' They also tend to have individual plants with multiple ploidy, or many more sets of chromosomes than the usual two sets. Both sexes have white flowers; males have many more flowers than females. If you look closely at the flowers, you can see either clusters of anther-tipped stamens on the male flowers, or a dense cluster of stigmas, with no anthers, on the female flowers. Male flowers also tend to be slightly larger and showier. During flowering, check plants and note the females, because these will have berries later on.
|Ripening Marionberries go from pale green to red to dark purple over a period of weeks, usually peaking in production in August, when berries ripen every day.|
Hybridizing begins:Enter 19th Century horticulturists eager to develop vines with bigger fruit, more flavor, and larger crops. They worked all over the world to develop highly productive, disease-resistant brambles for a wide range of climates. The genus Rubus has hundreds of species. Hybridizing is relatively easy once the genetics are aligned. The base number of chromosomes (N), or ploidy, for the genus is 7. Typical diploids are 2N with fourteen chromosomes. The highest number of chromosomes known for a Rubus is 98. Trivia (or there's a word for that): Those who study Rubus species are engaged in batology, the study of brambles.
|Ripe Marionberries are large and dark purple-black, flavorful and full of anthocyanins.|