Black Raspberries

black raspberries

That’s right, black raspberries, not blackberries.  Two completely different varieties, each with its own distinct traits.

Black Raspberries (Rubus occidentalis)

Black Raspberries are native to North America.  It is sometimes known as wild black raspberry, black caps, black cap raspberry, thimbleberry, or scotch cap.

This variety is closely related to the red raspberry but has dark purple fruits.  There are natural mutations of this variety which produce a yellowish fruit.  The black raspberry has a distinctive flavor, unlike blackberries.

There are some things to know that will help distinguish black raspberries from blackberries.

Look at the Core

Blackberries will always have a core, the spot where the stem meets the fruit body.  Black Raspberries are hollow in the center just like raspberries.

Size

Black raspberries are usually smaller than a blackberry and covered with small hairs.  Blackberries have larger cells on the fruit.

Look

Black raspberries are often described as shinier than blackberries.

Taste

Black Raspberries tend to be less tart than blackberries, making them better for eating fresh.  They can be used for making jams, and jellies as well.  Blackberries can be sour and are better for making desserts.

Research

There isn’t much research on the medical and health benefits of eating black raspberries (or any raspberry for that matter.)  In general, raspberries as a whole are rich in flavonoids that suppress inflammation.  These fruits also contain quantities of polyphenols that some believe help reduce blood pressure.  Raspberries are high in potassium, which supports heart health  Raspberries, for the size, have a lot of fiber and can aid in diabetes management, digestion, and constipation.  The vitamin C content aids in eye health.

Growing Black Raspberries

Raspberries, like blackberries, are soil tolerant and will do well almost anywhere in West Texas with a little care and attention.  The best way to start raspberries is from cuttings.  Plant your cuttings 2 inches below the soil surface in clay soils.  If your soil is sandy, increase the depth to 4 inches.  These plants will grow to be 3 – 5 feet tall and need to be spaced about 3 feet apart if planted in rows.  Be warned.  Raspberries will spread and can be invasive in a landscape.  We prefer to plant our berry vines in containers so we can more easily manage this tendency.  Cutting should be planted in late winter and need full sun to thrive.  Raspberries only produce fruit on two-year-old canes, after which the canes die.  Prune off the old canes.  Don’t prune in winter because the buds form in September for spring growth. 

Varieties of Black Raspberries

The most popular variety is Munger, which is available from most nurseries who stock raspberries.  Other varieties that are known to do well in Texas are Allen and Bristol.

Cautions

Raspberries are prodigious expanders.   They will spread rapidly, given a chance and can become invasive if not kept tightly controlled.  They do well in containers, and this is our preferred method for growing berries in our small landscape. 

Avoid planting different varieties near.  If you plant a different colored variety of raspberry such as a red or gold within 75 to 100 feet of a black raspberry, you risk cross-pollination.

Black Raspberries tend to be more susceptible to aphids and the diseases that these little bugs can carry.  Keep a close eye on your plants and use our organic integrated pest control systems to treat when necessary.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a big commercial grow operation in black raspberries so sourcing them at your local grocery or market is a long shot.   Your best bet is to order some cuttings and start your own small berry patch. 

For more information about black raspberries or any other plant, organic growing, and gardening or organic lifestyles, visit our website at http://westtexasorganicgardening.com