Saturday, August 16, 2008


I love wineberries, Rubus phoenicolasius, a member of the raspberry family and native to China, Japan, and Korea, introduced into the US as an ornamental. It has subsequently escaped and is naturalized here in the east, to the point of being an invasive pest in some areas. I have them growing in my yard, which makes both the kids and the fruit-eating birds, especially the catbirds, very happy. As a kid, I used to be very happy scrounging wineberries from the woods and from the patch behind our shed.

I was going to take a photo of my berries, but they're all gone now. We may get a few later in September from the second bloom. For a great photo of wineberries in action, click on over to Food Rockz.

The bright red to deep wine colored fruits are abundant, not too seedy, easy to pick, and very tasty. They taste slightly different from a red raspberry, but I'm mostly at a loss to say how, perhaps a bit tarter and more intensely berry flavored. While the fruits are wonderful, the canes are a bear, with fine red hairs and abudant thorns hidden in those hairs.

From a culture point of view, wineberries grow readily in many soils and will fruit even in very partial sun. They grow very quickly and as the long canes bend over to the ground from their own weight, they take root. A single vine can expand to take over a vast amount of space in a couple of growing seasons: it's definitely invasive. Diligence in managing the canes in a must.

The reward of wineberries is three-fold: the plants are the prettiest of all the raspberries, the fruit is outstanding, and the catbirds that they attract do a great job of keeping the insects in the garden in check.

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