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It’s that time of year again.  Berries have started popping up in supermarket produce sections, and tables at farmer’s markets are lined with boxes of them.  For those of you with your own berry patches, you may have noticed your blackberries and raspberries all ripening up nicely, and even after you have shared with the birds, there are still plenty to go around.

What is even more exciting is that these two little berries can be found growing in abundance in the wild, too.  Hedgerows and verges can be seen dotted with little black and red gems all ready to be picked.

Both blackberries and raspberries are amongst some of the healthiest fruits you can eat.  They are high in antioxidants, contain a list of vitamins and minerals, are high in fiber, and have anti-inflammatory properties.  Needless to say, they are delicious.

Blackberries and raspberries may seem quite similar, and though they are cousins, there are some important differences to learn especially if you are looking to forage for them yourself.  Let’s break down these two important fruits and look at the differences, health properties, and how to safely spot them in wild.


Though raspberries come in a variety of colors, such as golden and black, it is the classic red raspberry that comes to mind when we picture this fruit. This is simply because the red raspberry is most common.  Red raspberries grow wild in the USA in sunny spots along trails, hedgerows, and roadsides.

Health Benefits- Raspberries are amazingly nutritious.  Just one cup provides vitamin C (54% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)), manganese (41% of the RDI), vitamin K (12% of the RDI), Vitamin E (5% of the RDI), B vitamins (4–6% of the RDI), Iron (5% of the RDI), magnesium (7% of the RDI), phosphorus (4% of the RDI), potassium (5% of the RDI) and copper (6% of the RDI). They also provide 8g fiber per cup which is 32% of the RDI for women and 21% for men.

Raspberries contain a high level of antioxidants that help to reduce oxidative stress in the body which is linked to cancer and other diseases.  They also have anti-inflammatory properties that may help in the relief of symptoms from arthritis.

It is not only the berries that can be eaten from this plant.  Raspberry leaves are also used to make tea that can help with premenstrual symptoms.

Identification for foraging- Raspberries grow on long canes that become heavy with fruits and reach the ground.  The canes are very spiky with tightly packed thorns growing all over them.

Leaves grow alternately along the stems and have serrated edges.  The leaves are pinnately compound leaves.  The underside of the leaves has a silvery color, and you will find spines growing along the main stem.

The fruit itself is easily identifiable when you pick it.  You may have noticed that raspberries are hollow (like a little hat).  When they are harvested the fruit comes away from the plant leaving the core behind.  You will see the core left behind on the end of the stem. The berries will also have tiny little hairs growing over them.


Blackberries are a true favorite and are enjoyed in jams, pies, and smoothies. Blackberries, a cousin to the sweeter raspberry, have quite a tart flavor.  They can be found growing wild in USDA zones 8-5.  You can spot them along hedgerows and roadsides.

Health Benefits-  Blackberries are notably high in vitamin C with one cup containing almost half your RDI.  Vitamin C works as an antioxidant helping to fight disease-causing free radicals in your body.  They are also high in fiber, helping to regulate your digestive system.  One cup of blackberries contains almost 29 micrograms of vitamin K which is over a third of the RDI.  Vitamin K is important in bone health.  One cup also contains almost your RDI of manganese which is also essential for bone health and aids in the healing of wounds.

Identification for foraging-  Blackberries are easy to spot in the wild.  You will first see the red unripened berries that may fool you into thinking that they are raspberries, but these with be very hard and almost impossible to pull off the plant.  Eventually, you will notice canes covered in red (unripened) berries and black ripe blackberries at the same time.  The long canes will arch over with the weight of the berries.  The canes are thorny, but the thorns are spaced more like those on a rose bush (they are from the same family).  The thorns are not nearly as dense and raspberry thorns.

The leaves, which grow in 3-5 leaflets, also pinnately compound leaves, are dark green.  The underside of the leaves has small spines growing the main stem.

The fruits are dark purple to black in color, and when picked, the whole core comes away with the fruit.  Unlike raspberries, blackberries are not hollow.

General Berry Foraging Advice

  • Know your source.  Never pick and eat berries from a place that might be contaminated with chemicals or car fumes.
  • Check that it is legal to pick.  You can consult local and state parks to find out their harvesting policies.
  • Raspberries and Blackberries are incredibly thorny.  You will get scratched up!  Take sturdy clothing and maybe a friend to untangle you when your hat, hair, or clothes inevitably get snared by the thorns!
  • Be aware of hazards.  The sight of a motherload of berries might mean that you forget to check your surroundings.  Keep an eye out for poison ivy, poison oak, and snakes.
  • The most important- NEVER eat anything that you are not 100% certain about.

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