Rubus fruticosus

Rubus fruticosus

The European blackberry (Rubus fruticosus L.) is a shrub species belonging to the Rosaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Rosales Order, Rosaceae Family, Rosoideae Subfamily and therefore to the Genus Rubus and to the Species R. fruticosus.
The term is synonymous: Rubus trivialis Andr. Mich ..

Etymology –
The term Rubus comes from rúbeo to be red: referring to the color of the immature fruits of bramble.
The specific epithet fruticosus is due to the fact that this plant is rich in buds, see precisely fruit in the botanical dictionary.

Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
Rubus fruticosus is a plant native to Eurasia, although other authors place it in southern Africa. Today it is a common species in Europe and Asia and also introduced in North America.
In Italy it is a common plant and its habitat is that of humid forests, at the edge of forests, in clearings and hedges, where it prefers soils rich in nutrients, weakly acidic and grows up to 1700 m above sea level.

Description –
The European blackberry is a thorny shrub plant that can reach 2–3 m in height and equally in width due to the presence of the very long shoots that annually develop from the roots.
The leaves are deciduous, composed of 3-5 leaflets, with ovate or obovate lamina and serrated and spiny margins and acute apex.
The flowers are hermaphrodite, whitish or pinkish in color and grouped in raceme inflorescences.
The antesis occurs around the month of June.
The fruits are small grouped drupes, red in color in the early stages of growth and later black when ripe.
The ripening of the fruits is from August.

Cultivation –
Although the European blackberry is a spontaneous species and, under certain conditions, weed is a plant that can be grown for the production of fruits.
Planting is usually done in late winter. In this period, before planting, it is necessary to carry out a dig at 30-40 cm deep and to fertilize with mature manure (500 q / ha). The sixths of planting on the row are 1-1.5 m, while between the rows at least 2.5-3 m are necessary allowing the passage of the vehicles and the development of suckers in the inter-row. Mulching with black plastic film is used on the row to prevent the problem of weeds; during the season, the sheet must be cut along the row to facilitate the emission of suckers from the base or root of the plants.
The forms of breeding normally adopted are counter-espalier, with the help of poles and wires as the branches need tying. Pruning is done in late autumn or winter, cutting the old shoots that have already produced and leaving the new suckers for the following year, shortening them to a maximum of 3 m and thinning out the excess ones. The bramble, being a very rustic plant, does not require fertilization. Irrigation should be carried out in the case of very light soils or if prolonged periods of drought occur, the maximum water demand is in correspondence with the fruit swelling; exaggerated irrigations lead to an excessive vegetative luxuriance with the achievement of too watery blackberries.
The collection is scalar so it is carried out several times, 4-5 days apart; they are stored in small cardboard or plastic containers in which they will be marketed for fresh consumption. Blackberries must be fully ripe and easily detached; overripe fruits are excessively soft under the pressure of the fingers, therefore they must be discarded, while if they show a certain tensile strength they are still considered immature, despite the complete coloring.

Uses and Traditions –
Rubus fruticosus, whose fruits are commonly called blackberries, is a plant used since ancient times and Virgil writes about it: “it is time to weave light baskets with bramble shoots”. Legend has it that Satan, driven from the skies, fell into a thicket of brambles. It was 11 October, and every year on that day the cursed man comes out of hell, and returns to earth to hurl his curse against the stinging bush. From this moment the blackberries are not good, they lose their flavor, they cover themselves with cobwebs and mold. So if you want to go and collect blackberries, do it in time, because there is no trip that makes you more fun, that makes you happy and happy.
Fruit sacred to Saturn, mistreated by the language of flowers that attributes envy, one of the deadly sins, the bramble is loved by poets, who consider it worthy to adorn the kingdom of heaven. It grows in sunny and dusty places, it doesn’t matter to have near rubble, desolation and ruins. The peasants do not love him because he is weed, and they say: “Give him a space and he will get you up to the room”.
The Romans chewed the leaves as an astringent for gum bleeding.
The fruit is very acidic when it is not mature, sometimes woody, it is excellent only when it is ripe.
The blackberry has purifying, diuretic, antirheumatic and thirst quenching properties and the drugs used are the leaves and the fruits.
Among the curiosities we point out that:
– the sweetest blackberries are the first to ripen;
-if you go for blackberries and injure yourself, to stop the blood, crush some fruit and apply it in place.
The plant is also used to delimit properties and farms, with mainly defensive functions, both for the numerous and robust thorns that cover the branches, and for the dense and tenacious tangle they form, creating an almost impassable barrier.
Other functions of briar hedges are in the supply of pollen and nectar for the production of often single floral honey, being a honey plant, very bottled by bees.
Among the active ingredients present we indicate: hydrolyzable tannins, isocitric organic acids, malic.

Preparation Mode –
The blackberries, in addition to fresh consumption, can be intended for freezing, for the preparation of syrups, liqueurs, jams, jellies, cakes, ice cream, sorbets, for flavoring vinegar and as food coloring.
The fruits lend themselves to be used to make excellent jams which, after cooking, are passed with the filter to remove the seeds. However, it is important to know that the sugar content must not be less than 60%, in order to avoid problems with botulinum (Clostridium botulinum); or the blackberries are cooked in a pan where 30% sugar, a pinch of vanilla and half a glass of rum have been added, cooking until the jam reaches a moderate density. The jam is excellent over desserts, panna cotta and ice cream.
With blackberries you can also prepare an excellent blackberry jelly; to do this you need to take ripe blackberries, cook them with enough water to cover them. When cooked, pour into a linen gauze and drain the juice. Then add the sugar in the proportions of a third of the juice itself. Boil everything until the desired consistency is reached.
The grappa alle More is excellent; to prepare it, pour a liter of grappa over 250 g of well-cleaned blackberries; add a lemon zest and a piece of cinnamon. Leave to soak in the sun for about twenty days. Filter. A good seasoning improves the product.
Finally we recommend the preparation of the blackberry dessert. It is necessary to mix 250 g of flour and 150 g of sugar with 150 g of butter cut into pieces; add 2 egg yolks and a pinch of salt. After the dough, leave to rest. Soak 250 g blackberries in the sugar. Add a sliced ​​apple. Roll out the dough in a cake tin. Arrange the slices of apples and bake at 180 degrees. After about 15 minutes the cooking is finished: pour the blackberries. Leave a few minutes in the oven, still hot.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is assumed for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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