Blackberry or Dewberry

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on May 13, 2011

dewberry flower

Dewberry flower

There are wild berries in my area that the locals call dewberries.  They look and taste like small blackberries.  I always thought they were just wild blackberries.  It turns out there are some differences between the two.

Officially, dewberries run along the ground, like a ground cover.  Blackberries have upright canes.  Both occur in this area as native plants.  Domestic blackberries have been bred to have bigger berries and to have fewer thorns that wild blackberries.  There are even a few thornless varieties.

You might think that having wild dewberries and blackberries is a good thing.  It is, in moderation.  As with most things, however, too much of a good thing can be a real problem.  These plants will cover a pasture in an impenetrable carpet of thorny canes that chokes out everything else.  Animals cannot penetrate it, the canes choke out other plants that are needed for food, and it becomes a fairly sterile area.  Even deer can’t do much damage.

The plants are surprisingly hard to kill.  Farmers and ranchers have to spend a lot of money getting rid of these plants, or at least controlling them.  The chemicals they use require a pesticide license and a sprayer to apply.  Consumers have to get professional help to control a pasture or yard over run by these thorny plants.  Mowing them down just encourages new growth.  Digging them up works, but is a lot of effort.

If you have a pasture over run by these plants, contact your county extension agent for help.  If you just have a few wild ones that are not hurting anything, enjoy the berries.  If you corral them into a patch and fertilize them, they will have larger berries and grow like weeds.

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