Written by Samuel Phineas Upham
Red and blackberries are often called “brambles” and they come from the “rubus” family of berries. Their closest ancestor is the strawberry, which explains why pairing those works so well. The black and red berries can grow in just about any kind of soil, and blackberries are viewed as a drought resistant fruit. Blackberries also adapt better to higher temperatures than other species of bramble.
Blackberries are native to North and South America, Europe, and Asia. The Europeans have used blackberries for more than 2,000 years as both sustenance and medicine. They also used the hedges, which have thorns, to deter marauders from invading a particular property.
Red raspberries were gathered in the wild around Troy and the foothills of Mt. Ida, where they were grown. This would have been around the same time that Christ was alive. The Romans discovered it and wrote extensively on how to cultivate it. Seeds were recovered at Roman forts in Britain too, lending some credence to the idea that the Romans brought the berries with them during their conquest into Europe.
The black raspberry is native to North America, but it was not cultivated en masse until the 1800s. An abundance of wild fruit and plenty of red raspberries drove down demand for the food.
Today, the bramble berry and all of its derivatives are used extensively in jams and preserves. You will also find the berry baked into pies and other baked goods, as well as part of frozen juices and ice creams.