Blackberry Rubus spp.
Blackberry was originally planted in the catchment for its delicious berries produced in the summer months, however it has now spread over hillsides and along watercourses causing numerous problems. These include:
- smothering of existing vegetation
- food & shelter for pest animals
- restricted access
- increased fire hazard, and
- possibly a decrease in property value
Blackberry is classified as semi-deciduous and sheds its leaves in winter. Clumps can spread with the prickly canes taking root when they touch the ground – in spring, young canes have been known to grow 50-80mm in one day! It is also spread via seed, either along waterways or with birds and other animals distributing the seed in their faeces. One berry can contain up to 80 seeds!
- The best time to spray Blackberry is during the flowering/fruiting period when the plant is actively growing. Be sure the plant isn’t stressed by drought conditions as the herbicide won’t be taken up as effectively. Use a woody weed herbicide registered for Blackberry.
- Isolated plants in sensitive conservation areas can be cut & swabbed with a woody weed herbicide in the growing season. Alternatively, small plants can be grubbed out with a mattock (easier when the soil is moist), but be sure not to leave any root fragments behind.
- Regular slashing/mowing will not kill Blackberry, but it forces the plant to regrow, using up root reserves and making it weaker.
- Heavy machinery can be employed in pasture areas where a bulldozer can “scalp” the soil and dig out the crowns and roots.
- Goats will graze on Blackberries, but this is only recommended for pasture areas and where fences are secure. They must be used continuously to prevent regrowth from occurring.
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Believe it or not, there is a Native Raspberry (Rubus parvifolius) which is often confused with Blackberry! Here are some distinguishing characteristics:
- flowers are a deep pink
- growth is much less vigorous than Blackberry, with fewer prickles
- leaves are a paler green with indented veins of green above and white underneath
- fruits are red when ripe compared with the deep purple/black of Blackberry