Content Detail

Wild blackberry is a medium-sized shrub growing throughout roadsides, open fields, and wood edges. Sweet, spicy edible fruits, attractive fall color and a valuable food source for wildlife. This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Occasional drought, Occasional flooding
  • Season of interest early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Arching, Multi-stemmed, Open, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast

Native geographic location and habitat:

Common in fence rows, roadsides, open woods and forest edges, this is native to the Midwest and northeastern United States. C-Value:  3 

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

This shrub is popular with birds and other wildlife.

Bark color and texture: 

Stout, angled canes have large hooked prickles. They are dull reddish brown, lacking glaucous bloom. Canes have a white pith and do not root at the tips. Each cane lives for two years.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

Alternate, palmately compound leaves are 3 to 5 inches long and wide with three to seven leaflets. Dark green leaves are paler beneath, with serrated margins, and prickles on petiole. Fall color is wine-red to burgundy.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

A profusion of white, five-petaled, crinkled flowers with showy yellow stamens bloom on terminal tips of last year’s canes.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Black multiple aggregates are borne in up to 1 inch long drupes. Juicy fruits ripen in late summer. When picked, the fruit does not separate from its core.

Plant care:

Sprawling, arching canes form dense thickets, often reaching 10 feet long. Canes are usually short-lived and should be pruned back after flowering to control size and encourage new growth. Best in full sun but tolerant of part shade in moist, well-drained soils.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Leaf spots, rust, mildew and cane borer are problems for this plant.


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