6.17.2010

Wild Raspberries Vs. Wild Blackberries

Is this a wild raspberry or a wild black berry?  I can see where the confusion lies.  Wild blackberries and wild raspberries look remarkably similar.    I got a lot of people responding to my post and photo wild raspberries saying, "what you've got is blackberries."  I did some detective work. I think I have discovered a couple key ways to tell the difference between blackberries and raspberries.   
Which one's which?

The first one is a wild blackberry and the second one is a wild raspberry. Both are members of the rose (Rosaceae) family. They are even the same genus, but not the same species. The wild raspberry is Rubus occidentalis while the wild blackberry is Rubus ursinus.



So how to tell which one is which? Taxonomically the best way is to look at how the fruit comes off of the stem. When you pick a raspberry the center is hollow so that you can stick them on your fingers and eat them off one by one. Come on, we've all done this right?  Blackberries are not hollow. The receptacle comes off with the berry. Also raspberries have little hairs on the fruit while blackberries are completely smooth. That's a difference you can actually see in the photos. 

The plants also look different. Blackberries are much larger reaching heights of six to ten feet tall. Raspberries will get about three to four feet tall. And of course the taste; Blackberries have a mild, sweeter flavor than the tart wild raspberries. All of which I can't really convince you of with my close up photos. 

So there you go.  I am indeed picking wild raspberries in North West Indiana.  I hear there might be some blackberries around here too, but I haven't found them yet.

22 comments:

  1. Neat! I love the way the wild raspberry has small, shiny juice bulbs.

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  2. Brilliant post...thanks for the info! Brings back memories of picking strawberries and blueberries as a kid in Indiana. My Mom is from Mishawaka.

    (I don't miss picking off the strawberry leaves when it came time to cleaning them!)

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  3. Huh. Would have never known. Thanks!

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  4. please don't be mad, but you've got two blackberry photos there. my family has grown them, both wild and domestically, for generations here in Florida. without getting into a whole scientific debate, i'm including two photos. however, you're definitely picking blackberries, or someone has come up with a crazy hybrid i've never seen.

    black raspberries: http://battlingforhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/blackraspberry3.jpg

    blackberries: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/78/Ripe,_ripening,_and_green_blackberries.jpg

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  5. I think they're blackberries too simply because we had both cultured and wild in our yard (the top pic is wild, the bottom not) and that's exactly how they looked. Plus, I don't think raspberries have a shiny exterior. They're a bit fuzzy like Brie's picture shows at the top. Just my two cents. Both berries are excellent though so who cares. ;)

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  6. I've picked wild raspberries before and they are usually always pinkish-red, sweet and juicy when ripe. Just as you describe the center is hollow. What I'd like to know is if there is a difference between blackberries and black raspberries? Maybe you have a photo of black raspberries?

    I love them all and snarf them down whenever I find them on a trail. I just don't pick to close to the ground if it's a well-used trail. In other words, I avoid the dog pee height. :-)

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  7. We live in NY. I'm going to check for blackberries this weekend.

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  8. I am a raspberry fanatic and no faux berry could trick me in the wild. Shape, texture (to touch), not to mention taste make them different. I love the pictures!!

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  9. I pick both black raspberries and blackberries each year. The blackberries are much bigger than the raspberries. My dad and I always use the raspberries in pies...they are "world famous" at least with our family and friends! The blackberries are a bit tart but are also good in pies. We like to mix them with apples for a yummy pie treat!

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  10. Great tips on distinguishing between the two! I love picking wild berries but have never been lucky enough to find raspberries!

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  11. Here, in Estonia, at least, wild raspberries are red. And the only thing that looks like the ones on your photos, are blackberries :). All the Google picture results on "wild raspberry" come out red also... hmmm. I am confused!

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  12. Whatever they are, they look delicious, your photo is awesome and I am still lol at the inquisitive spider ;)

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  13. I confered with my horticulturist friends (plant ID is fun) and we are sure the labels above are correct. It's hard to convince you guys with out better pictures. We are headed out today to go picking raspberries. I'll try and get better photos.

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  14. Thanks for this post. I have some wild berries near my house we found last year, and thought they were raspberries, but weren't sure. I found it hard to tell by just looking at pictures, so thanks for the other details:)

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  15. Very interesting! I didn't know there are black raspberries, I've eaten only red ones :)

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  16. The distinction made on this blog is the one I make and is the same distinction my organic berry farmer sister-in-law makes. She tends to call the wild black raspberries "black caps" to avoid confusion with the familiar domestic berries or with blackberries.

    Interestingly, on our home five acres we have three different colors of wild blackberries, black, yellow and pink in addition to our red raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries.

    You can also tell the difference between wild blackberries and raspberries by the thorns on the cane (wild blackberry canes have more and longer thorns.) You say "ouch" when picking wild raspberries; stronger language is needed for picking blackberries.

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  17. Anonymous5/22/2011

    The top picture looks like a blackberry or a dewberry depending if the source is from a a bush or a ground runner. The second is a (black cap) raspberry.

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  18. Anonymous11/17/2011

    Thanks for a very nice artickle. I now know that I'm picking wild blackberries. :)

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  19. I live in TN and I indeed have wild "black caps" in my yard, like a jungle that I started from three small plants found by my pond. They do grow in clusters of berries, just like one of the pictures posted on another site. Another clue, blackberries have angular stems, raspberries (mine anyway) have round stems and have a powdery look that can be wiped of with a finger tip. It is NOT mold or mildew. And, they are awesome to eat!

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  20. Thanks for this post! The other day I was picking wild blackberries on a friend of mine's land and noticed some that looked a little different. They were black and ripe so I still picked them and included them in with my blackberries. I just thought maybe they were a little less "wild" NOW I know that they were actually wild raspberries! Makes much more sense to me now! I actually found that they were much sweeter and nicer tasting then the blackberries which were bitter. Unfortunatly there are only a few of those types of plants in a very specific location (I think they like the cooler more damp area while the blackberries grow ANYWHERE!).

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  21. Nice post! I love your blog.

    ammo can

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  22. Just found this very helpful post. It would seem we've been eating wild blackberries all this time on our bike rides 'round the far-western suburbs of Chicago, when I had been calling them raspberries, but now I know for sure how to tell the difference!

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