Brambles, thorny understory woody shrubs, are found at many a forest or meadow edge. These shrubs, when left untended, can take over land and challenge our home landscapes. Our black and red raspberries fall into this category and like apples, pears, quinces and many other fruits, they are related to roses.
Whether blackberries, or the red and black raspberry, both producing fruit right now as summer meanders along, can create a thicket of prickly shrubs either welcome for their fruit or cursed because they are nearly impossible to get rid of.
Michael Pollan reminds us in his book, “Second Nature” “nothing (in nature) sits still, well, maybe for just a brief moment.”
I think of the brambles that insist on filling in any space unused and once in the yard can be cut back but rarely are they gone for good. Brambles are also a wild life habitat providing food and refuge for many species.
Berries are one of my favorite summertime treats. Red raspberry farms are open for pick it yourself options. Black raspberries (see previous post) are out too and prevalent in the CT woodland and meadow areas. Blueberries are also ripe and ready for picking.
Typically I look for the raspberry family by checking the underside of leaves to ID correct berry. I gather leaves from younger canes of the red raspberry shrub as they make a great soothing tea. I dry some of the berries I harvest for winter use. I also place fresh berries on a cookie sheet, put in the freezer. Once frozen I put them in freezer bags and then take out for a breakfast treat on a cold winters morning when the chill reminds me that spring is far away.
If you have brambles at the edges of your property you can easily distinguish the red raspberry from the blackberry: look at the underside of the leaves. Red raspberry leaves have a silver green underside whereas blackberries do not.
For this post I would like to share and remind us of the benefits of raspberries and some of the new research.
Name: Red Raspberry: Rubus idaeus (Rosaceae family)
Parts Used: leaves and fruit, perennial
Varieties: Rubus idaeus is considered the cultivated variety; Rubus strigosus is considered the wild variety.
Where found: temperate climates as these berries need a period of cold in order to flower
How to maintain:
“Raspberry plants produce biennial canes, which means that the first year they are vegetative only and don’t produce fruit. The second year, they flower and produce fruit, but then die. The plants that fruited for you last year can be removed because they are dead anyway. Those that were vegetative last year will or should produce fruit this season. It is best to get the old canes removed as soon as possible. Most people get around to it in the fall after a couple of hard frosts.”
1. Obesity: raspberries contain antioxidants and other nutrients such as rheosmin (also called raspberry ketone). The theory is the metabolism in our fat cells can be increased by certain plant constituents. One, rheosmin for instance, seems to increase enzyme activity, increase O2 consumption, increase heat production all which may contribute to lowering the risk of obesity.
2. Organic raspberries when tested against non organic raspberries out perform in terms of their antioxidant activity.
3. Cancer: what makes a cell turn cancerous? Why some and not others? This is ongoing research and what role do the plant constituents in raspberries play? Research is showing antioxidants, when given to lab animals with various tumors, show a decrease in oxidative stress (means they help diminish the damage from free radicals) decreases inflammation or reduces cancer cell promotion. This is not new research. What is new is that the unique plant constituents in raspberries may be able to change the signal, specifically, signal a cancer cell to begin a death cycle. A cell that is cancerous overrides its death instruction. This is a very important understanding of plant constituents and the roles they play in keeping us healthy. Pretty amazing isn’t it and the antioxidant effects are greater in organically grown berries.
Enjoy all the fresh organic berries you can find. Dry, freeze for winter use.
Today is beautiful here. Gotta get outside and talk a walk I hope you can enjoy the outdoors too.
Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, Writer, Speaker, Holistic Health Consultant and Workshop Presenter, Master Gardener. © all rights reserved. Including photos.