Saturday, July 7, 2012

Rambling about Brambles

It looked like it would be another good year for blackberries. My wild canes were full of blooms this spring.

Fruit set looked pretty good, and then some questionable visitors showed up.


These are rednecked cane borers, Agrilus ruficollis, on the wineberries. The females lay eggs in the canes and the larvae produce gall-like swellings that predispose the canes to breakage. However, they're the least of my worries when it comes to harvesting blackberries.

This is the brown marmorated stinkbug, Halyomorpha halys. It's feeding on the developing drupes of the blackberry fruit. Keep this picture in'll be more relevant in a few minutes.

Some of the plants are looking pretty good. These are mostly canes growing in part shade.

Some plants growing in sunnier areas are marginally okay. The fruit is ripening but the berries are small or only have a few drupes.

And this is what many of my blackberries look like right now. The excessive heat and lack of rainfall is killing the canes, often right before the fruit ripen fully.

And remember the stinkbug? This is what stinkbug damage on blackberries looks like. Many of the drupes are brown and look somewhat mummified. I've heard that stinkbug feeding with make the fruit distasteful, but honestly....bad blackberries are hard, seedy, and sour so I don't think the fruit could taste any worse.

Combine heavy stinkbug feeding with excessive heat and you get this: brown berries with no juice! Ugh!

We have black raspberries, blackberries, and wineberries on our property. There are only a handful of black raspberry plants and they did fairly well, escaping much of the damage I've shown here, but I probably only get a cup or two of fruit from them. The wineberries are just starting to ripen now, and they also seem to have escaped much of the damage as well even though they grow side by side with the blackberries. I think this has to do with how the plant blooms and sets fruit.

For a couple of years I've wondered why I never saw the wineberries in bloom. They have fruit, but I never saw any flowers. As it turns out, their flowers are small and immediately forgetful.

Wineberry flowers are no where near as showy as blackberry blooms. And after flowering, the calyx encloses the developing fruit, which might protected it from marauding stinkbugs.

As the fruit nears ripening, the calyx splits apart. By this time the blackberries are also ripening and maybe the stinkbugs find those berries far more attractive in size, number, and availability than the wineberries.

Wineberries will slowly turn from a bright orange color to a deep wine color. They seem to be sweet as soon as they begin to color up, although the flavor continues to develop until they are wine colored.

Wineberries are a type of raspberry from Asia. The fruit is composed of drupes around a pity core that remains on the cane after the fruit has been picked. Wineberries are considered a naturalized plant at best and can be downright invasive in certain areas. I don't mind having them on my property and I'm wishing I had more of them given the blackberry crop this year.

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