(Rubus villosus) Rose family

Flowers - White, 1 in. or less across, in terminal raceme-like

clusters. Calyx deeply 5-parted, persistent; 5 large petals;

stamens and carpels numerous, the latter inserted on a pulpy

receptacle. Stem: 3 to 10 ft. high, woody, furrowed, curved,

armed with stout, recurved prickles. Leaves: Compounded of 3 to 5

ovate, saw-edged leaflets, the end one stalked, all hairy

beneath. Fruit: Firmly attached to the receptacle; nearly black,

oblong juicy berries 1 in. long or less, hanging in clusters.

Ripe, July-August.

Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, thickets, fence-rows, old fields,

waysides. Low altitudes.

Flowering Season - May-June.

Distribution - New England to Florida, and far westward.

"There was a man of our town,

And he was wondrous wise,

He jumped into a bramble bush" -

If we must have poetical associations for every flower, Mother

Goose furnishes several.

But for the practical mind this plant's chief interest lies in

the fact that from its wild varieties the famous Lawton and

Kittatinny blackberries have been derived. The late Peter

Henderson used to tell how the former came to be introduced. A

certain Mr. Secor found an unusually fine blackberry growing wild

in a hedge at New Rochelle, New York, and removed it to his

garden, where it increased apace. But not even for a gift could

he induce a neighbor to relieve him of the superfluous bushes, so

little esteemed were blackberries in his day. However, a shrewd

lawyer named Lawton at length took hold of it, exhibited the

fruit, advertised it cleverly, and succeeded in pocketing a snug

little fortune from the sale of the prolific plants. Another fine

variety of the common wild blackberry, which was discovered by a

clergyman at the edge of the woods on the Kittatinny Mountains in

New Jersey, has produced fruit under skilled cultivation that

still remains the best of its class. When clusters of blossoms

and fruit in various stages of green, red, and black hang on the

same bush, few ornaments in Nature's garden are more decorative.

Because bramble flowers show greater executive ability than the

raspberries do, they flaunt much larger petals, and spread them

out flat to attract insect workers as well as to make room for

the stamens to spread away from the stigmas - an arrangement

which gives freer access to the nectar secreted in a fleshy ring

at the base. Heavy bumblebees, which require a firm support,

naturally alight in the center, just as they do in the wild

roses, and deposit on the early maturing stigmas some imported

pollen. They may therefore be regarded as the truest benefactors,

and it will be noticed that for their special benefit the nectar

is rather deeply concealed, where short-tongued insects cannot

rob them of it. Small bees, which come only to gather pollen from

first the outer and then the inner rows of stamens, and a long

list of other light-weight visitors, too often alight on the

petals to effect cross-fertilization regularly, but they usually

self-fertilize the blossoms. Competition between these flowers

and the next is fierce, for their seasons overlap.


trails its woody stem by the dusty roadside, in dry fields, and

on sterile, rocky hillsides, calls forth maledictions from the

bare-footed farmer's boy, except during June and July, when its

prickles are freely forgiven it in consideration of the

delicious, black, seedy berries it bears. He is the last one in

the world to confuse this vine with the SWAMP BLACKBERRY (R.

hispidus), a smaller flowered runner, slender and weakly prickly

as to its stem, and insignificant and sour as to its fruit. Its

greatest charm is when we come upon it in some low meadow in

winter, when its still persistent, shining, large leaves, that

have taken on rich autumnal reds, glow among the dry, dead weeds

and grasses.