Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dewberries

To the delight of my kids, Dewberry season is upon us!  In our backyard, Dewberries grow rampant in the open, sunny parts surrounding our detention pond.  Closely related to blackberries, these small berries are a little on the sour side, but still a delectable find to small children who like to roam the wild places and forage for food.

Swamp Dewberries
There are several different types of Dewberries, but in our yard we have Swamp Dewberries, Rubus hispidus.  Also called Bristly Dewberries or Swamp Blackberries, they are native to the Eastern half of the U.S. and Canada.  This Dewberry plant is a low-growing, trailing vine that is covered in prickly hairs and spreads to form a low groundcover.


As indicated by the name, the Swamp Dewberry likes swampy places.  They are frequently found on the edge of wetlands (such as my detention pond).  In early summer, the plants are covered in white flowers, small but pretty.


As with so many native berrying plants, Dewberries are beloved by wildlife.  Native bees use the leaves for nesting material, and the flowers attract many different kinds of bees, small butterflies, and other assorted creatures in search of pollen and nectar.

Honeybee on Dewberry flower
The berries that result from the pollinated flowers are an important source of food for a large variety of songbirds and gamebirds.  Small animals such as chipmunks, mice, and raccoons also eat Dewberries.  The leaves of the Dewberry plant are also eaten by rabbits and deer.

a tiny bee on the Dewberry flower
I honestly would not grow Dewberries in a garden setting, as it spreads quite rapidly and would become weedy and take over.  If one needed a groundcover for a large wild area, however, this would do the trick.  Dewberries are one of those pioneer plants that are first to reestablish after a fire or after an area has been cleared.  They prevent erosion of soil and establish conditions for other, larger plants to move in.


I am glad to have a lot of Dewberries in the backyard, however.  I like having plants for the enjoyment of wildlife, as well as for the enjoyment of two (sometimes wild) children!



Happy Wildflower Wednesday!  
To see native wildflowers growing in other bloggers' yards, visit Clay and Limestone's site.

23 comments:

  1. I loved picking these as a kid...I have blackberries that are also running rampant in the back garden

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    1. Nice! We also have a few canes of blackberries out in the woods that I am hoping will grow bigger!

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  2. Lucky you (and your kids)! Have you ever tried making jam from the berries? We have Black Raspberries up at our cottage, and it's so fun to pick them. We also have low-growing Blackberries, but the animals (bears and deer?) eat them before they ripen. Picking berries is good therapy!

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    1. I haven't tried making jam out of the berries yet, but I think it would probably be fairly good. One of these days!

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  3. They are really shiny. We have them all over the park and I never once tried one. Since you mentioned them being sour, I probably won't be trying them. Great for the pollinators though. Your busy bee shows that!

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    1. There are other varieties of Dewberries that are supposed to be sweeter, so you could try and see. The wildlife sure like them, though!

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  4. This brings back memories of my childhood--we used to help my Mom pick them every year. I don't remember where we picked them, but I'm sure we found them growing wild somewhere. I think we ate them fresh--with lots of sugar:) They're actually pretty tasty.

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    1. Ah, that's what I need to do - put a little sugar over them! That would probably improve them quite a bit. One of these days I'll try making a jam or pie out of them too!

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  5. I have never seen Dewberries before. Do they taste like blackberries?

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    1. Yes, they do taste very similar to blackberries. Other varieties of Dewberries are supposed to be sweet, though sadly not the Swamp Dewberry.

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  6. Thank you for telling us about Dewberries.....I have seen them all my life and never put a name to them.....they are sour and seedy but a great find for kids!

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    1. Glad you finally got a name for them! I wonder if these were what I used to pick in my Grandma's yard growing up, as she had some sort of berry growing in various places a lot like this.

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  7. I've never seen Dewberries here in the UK, just plenty of Blackberries. As you said in your post, they'd be ideal for groundcover in a little wild area.

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    1. We have some blackberries, too, but those canes can sure be vicious with all those thorns!

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  8. Hmm, I don’t think I have even heard of these berries, I thought I knew all ‘black’ berries – obviously not! Lucky you for having them :-)

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    1. They're native over here, and they're not quite sweet enough for cultivation, so I can see why you might not have heard of them over there :)

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  9. We had blackberries here when I was a kid and my granny lived here. Momma, Poppie and I have just about cultivated them out of existence. I'm OK with that because I don't like the tough, fibrous center of them. Didn't seem to notice it as a kid...

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    1. Kids just love finding berries, so I can see why you didn't notice it back then! My kids did seem to draw the line at the bad-tasting, sour wild grapes we have though..

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  10. I am not familiar with dewberries, but the leaves remind me much of our wild strawberries, which may not be as tasty as the cultivated type, but, like dewberries, are edible and appeal to lots of wildlife.

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    1. Yeah, the leaves reminded me a lot of strawberries as well. When I first saw them, I though they might be some sort of groundcover strawberry, but then they produced fruit.

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  11. I learned a lot from this posting, as I never heard of dewberries. Are they too sour to make pies or jam? P. x

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    1. No, I'll bet I could make something out of them. One of these years I'll collect enough to do so (or put the kids on it!) The berries are quite small, so we'll need a lot!

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  12. Welcome Indie!
    I love blackberries. This year I have large collections.
    Greetings from Polish.

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