Over at Green Deane’s site, I just read a good article on blackberries:
“Anyone who forages will eventually collect a few blackberries and blackberry scratches. These aggregate fruit are among the best-known berries in North American, if not the world.
As a kid I can remember collecting wild raspberries long before wild blackberries, though I don’t know why. Blackberries are standard foraging fair (see my article about Dewberries.) What most people don’t know is that blackberries are a two-year plant, some say three years. The first year it sends up a tall cane, replete with thorns. The next year it flowers and has blackberries then dies. Some would add that the cane stays on another year and with its thorns to protect the patch. (I should add though that there are some naturally thornless blackberries.
Ripe blackberries can be yellow or red but usually they are black.
Blackberry leaves were in the official U.S. pharmacopoeia for a long time treating digestive problems, particularly diarrhea. Their dried leaves make an excellent tea even when you’re healthy. We presume blackberries have been eaten for thousands of years by native American Indians and used medicinally. The ancient Greeks considered the species good for ailments of the mouth and throat and for treating gout. Interestingly blackberries were found in the stomach content the Haraldskaer Woman, an iron age bog body found in Denmark in 1835 but killed around 500 BC. Her last meal was millet and blackberries. Scholars think her death was probably a religious ritual. The millet would have been standard Iron Age fare. Perhaps the blackberries were a special treat. Those blackberries would have also put her execution in early summer, perhaps to ensure a good fall harvest by appeasing an agricultural god (read the rest)…”
I dunno about you, but from where I sit, pre-Christian paganism makes the Inquisition look almost tolerable…
Anyhow, if you’re not familiar with Green Deane, you should be. He’s a leading modern forager with a radical amount of info kicking around inside his head. A few months back I went to one of his wild foraging tours and was blown away by how many edibles he uncovered in a small local park. There was food everywhere… we just didn’t see it until he pointed it out. If you get a chance to take a class with a local wild forager or a person that’s known for wilderness survival, go for it. The value is incredible… and delicious.
As a kid, I remember picking blackberries with my dad and brother in North Carolina while on vacation. We climbed up rocky hills and waded across streams to eat all we could… and in that experience, I realized the potential of wilderness.
Of course, when you take that wilderness and build it into a food forest, you’re really cooking with gas.