In Chippewa, oda’tagago’minaga’wunj, common blackberry is a cordial wild edible and medicinal bramble. It’s distinguishable from black raspberries by having a core instead of being hollow inside when harvested (second picture down this page).

There are around 50 species of black and raspberries in North America and up here in the north, aren’t we lucky it’s the thorny ones that tolerate cold weather best?

Common Blackberry - Rubus Allegheniensis
Common Blackberry – Rubus Allegheniensis

Edible Uses of Common Blackberry

Blackberries were the first wild plant I baked with when I was a child. I’d gather them at the back of my parents woods and turn them into cobblers and crumbles. Yum.

A Handful of Blackberries
A Handful of Blackberries (Note the intact cores!)

The berries have cordial properties (tonic drink) and can also be made into the likes of jello, brandy, jam, jelly, and vinegar. To make a tea gather the young leaves after the dew dries off them in morning and dry at room temp, not in sun, careful not to wilt them.

Medicinal Uses of Common Blackberry

Common blackberry is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Digestive
  • Integumentary

Medicinal tags include Astringent. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes that aforementioned cordial or brandy. Also, blackberry can be added to bitter medicines to sweeten them.

The Edible Wild has an early settler recipe for diarrhea: They used 4 quarts of blackberries boiled in 1 quart of water until mushy. Then they strained it. For every quart left they added 2 cups of sugar. And they tied up a tablespoon each of cloves, cinnamon, and allspice and hung it in the mixture inside a cheesecloth, and hung it in the pot. They boiled this together for 30 minutes. After letting it cool, they added 1 pint of whiskey per quart of syrup and stored it.

Alternative Uses of Bramble

The fruit can be used for purple dye, and the green twigs for black dye.

Growing Bramble

Same as wild red raspberry more or less.

Warnings

Wilted leaves can be toxic.

And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored. Herbalists do not have an official certification yet, but that may be in the works.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

REFERENCES

wiki/Rubus_allegheniensis

Forest Plants of Central Ontario

Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada

Indian Herbalogy of North America: The Definitive Guide to Native Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

The Edible Wild

Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants

How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts (Native American)

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs

The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual
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