Bramble - the naughty but nice blackberry bush
Bearer of the blackberry fruit, the prickly bramble is a fast-growing and invasive wild shrub, common throughout the UK, and happy growing in most locations, particularly where there is an opportunity for it to colonise.
Unfortunately, the plant grows rampantly and can be the bane of many gardeners and allotmenteers.
The bramble (Rubus fruticosus) grows abundantly in all parts of the British Isles, and harvesting the fruits (blackberrying) in late summer and autumn is a traditional reason for a country outing, as is then turning them into a range of conserves and pies.
An especially hardy plant, bramble bushes can quickly become a nuisance in gardens, sending down strong suckering roots amongst hedges and shrubs, and being particularly resilient against pruning. Many consider R. fruticosus a weed due its tendency to grow in neglected areas and its sharp, tough thorns.
The bramble blossom is rose-like, which is not surprising, as the plant is part of the rose family. The flower is pale pink, appears in late spring/early summer, with the fruits having matured by September into the juicy blackberries.
Brambles have a very rapid growth rate. They can grow up to three inches in a day. The BBC has an impressive time-lapse video illustrating this. Heavy infestations may make land completely unusable and impenetrable.
Brambles however, are important for their conservation and wildlife value. The flowers attract nectar-feeding butterflies and hoverflies. They are important food plants for the larvae of several species of butterflies and moths. Many birds, such as the common blackbird, and some mammals will feed on the nutritious fruits in autumn.
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