Nonchemical Methods For Removing Unwanted Blackberry Plants - It's Free! : Zensational Ergonica!, The Art of Eco-Health
Nonchemical Methods For Removing Unwanted Blackberry Plants

Nonchemical Methods For Removing Unwanted Blackberry Plants

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PDF 2 pages 4 images by Caroline Cox Northwest Coalition For Alternatives To Pesticides / NCAP

Nonchemical Methods For Removing Unwanted Blackberry Plants
Many Northwesterners have conflicting attitudes about wild blackberries. A handful of ripe berries or a piece of fresh blackberry pie is a scrumptious treat. On the other hand, it?s easy to hate the brambles that take over a back fence or a creek bed. If you decide to get rid of unwanted blackberries, you?ll be faced with a resilient and thorny plant. It?s not true that removal of these plants ?must rely on foliage-applied herbicide treatments.? 1 With a little persistence you can remove unwanted blackberries without using chemical poisons.

Basic Biology
The common weedy blackberry in the Pacific Northwest is the Himalayan blackberry, Rubus discolor. Despite its name, it is a native of Europe. It is widespread in southern British Columbia, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and northern California and is also common in the northeast U.S.2 It thrives in disturbed moist areas and at all elevations up to 5,000 feet.3 Blackberry branches, called canes, are known for their stout thorns. Canes are biennial, producing lateral branches which bear fruit in their second year.2 Himalayan blackberries are robust. They can be 10 feet tall and their canes can grow as much as 20 feet in a season. Trailing canes can root where they contact the soil, producing ?dense, impenetrable thickets.?2 At the base of a blackberry cane is an irregularly shaped crown. Roots extend from this crown, and have been recorded up to 30 feet long!4 Blackberry seeds are transported by birds and mammals that eat the fruit. Seeds can remain viable in the soil for several years.5 New plants can also develop from crowns and underground stems.1 There are several native blackberry species in the Northwest.3

1. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. 2002. Wild blackberries. Pest Notes Publ. 7434.
2. Oregon State Univ. Horticulture Dept. Undated. Landscape plants: Images, identification, and information. Vol. 3. Idplants/rudis.htm.
3. Ertter, B. 1993. Rubus. In The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California, ed. J.C. Hickman. Berkeley: University of California Press.
4. Amor, R.L. 1974. Ecology and control of blackberry (Rubus fruticosus L. agg.) Weed Res. 14: 231-238.
5. Brinkman, K.A. 1974. Rubus L.: Blackberry, raspberry. In Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agriculture Handbook No. 450.
C.S. Schopmeyer, ed. Washington, D.C.: Forest Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Pp. 738-743.
6. Interview with D. Kruse and P. Hamilton, Friends of Tryon Creek. Portland, OR. Feb. 5, 2003
7. Oregon State Univ. Extension. Undated. Blackberries take time and persistence to control. Gardening Information. agcommwebfile/garden/Fruit/blackberries.html.
8. Drliik, T. 1996. Stumps and brambles. Common Sense Pest Control 9:21.
9. The Nature Conservancy. 1989. Elemental stewardship abstract for Rubus discolor (Rubus procerus), Himalayan blackberry. http://
10. AgResearch Crown Research Institute. 1998. Goats for weed control. AgFACT No. 240. 240goatsforweedcontrol.pdf.
11. Vere, D.T. and P.J. Holst. 1979. Using goats to control blackberries and briars. Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales 90; 11-13.
12. Kiester, E. 2001. Getting their goats. Smithsonian Magazine (October).

Regions impacted: Northwest, Northwestern, Pacific, Pacific Alaska, Rocky Mountain, Northeast

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