Sprawling prickly shrub growing to 13 ft (4 m). Has palm-shaped leaves with 3–5 lobes, white to pale pink flowers and clusters of black berries.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to temperate areas of Europe, blackberry is naturalized in the Americas and in Australia. It is commonly found along roads, in open areas, and in woodlands. The leaves are gathered in summer, the berries in summer and autumn.
Blackberry leaves contain tannins, flavonoids, and gallic acid. The fruit contains anthocyanins, pectin, fruit acids, and vitamin C.
History & Folklore
As early as the 1st century CE, the physician Dioscorides recommended ripe blackberries in a gargle for sore throats. In European folk medicine, blackberry leaves have long been used for washing and staunching wounds. Arching blackberry runners that had rooted at both ends were credited with magical properties. In England, for example, children with hernias were pushed under arched runners for a magical cure.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Blackberry leaves are strongly astringent and may be used as a mouthwash to strengthen spongy gums and ease mouth ulcers, as a gargle for sore throats, and as a decoction to relieve diarrhea and hemorrhoids. Like many red or purple fruits, such as bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), blackberry fruit and juice has significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, helping to maintain a healthy circulation.