blackberries / blueberries / raspberries / strawberries
THE SONG OF THE BLACKBERRY QUEEN
My berries cluster black and thick
For rich and poor alike to pick.
I’ll tear your dress, and cling, and tease,
And scratch your hand and arms and
I’ll stain your fingers and your face,
And then I’ll laugh at your disgrace.
But when the bramble-jelly’s made,
You’ll find your trouble well repaid.
- Cicely Mary Barker
The blackberry is a small
round fruit that grows on a flowering shrub or a trailing
vine. Blackberries may be black, dark red, or yellow.
blackberry consists of a cluster of tiny fruits called
drupelets, which grow around a core known as the receptacle.
are often confused with black raspberries. But the receptacles
of blackberries, unlike those of black raspberries and
other raspberries, are eaten with the rest of the fruit.
are eaten fresh or are processed for use in making jam,
jelly, pies, preserves, and wine.
is the leading producer of blackberries. The fruit grows
wild in most Midwestern and Eastern states, including
Oklahoma. Blackberries are also produced commercially
Growers produce blackberry
plants by cutting 6-inch sections from blackberry roots
and burying them in loose loam. The roots are placed
in rows about 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters) apart to
ensure proper development of the fruit. Growers plant
the root sections in early spring, and only fruitless
stems develop during the first growing season. Fruit
production starts the next year and reaches its peak
in the fourth or fifth years.
Most blackberry plants
live 15 to 20 years.
Blackberries to be
sold as fresh fruit are harvested by hand. Those to be
sold for processing are harvested by machines that shake
the fruit from the bush. More than 90 percent of the
blackberries grown commercially in the US are sold
Blackberry plants require special care to produce large
crops of fruit. For example, growers prune the plants regularly.
In addition, growers spray the plants with pesticides for
protection against insects.
The blackberry is
a member of the rose family, Rosaceae.
Blueberries are the
fruits of a shrub that belong to the heath family, which
includes the cranberry and bilberry as well as the azalea,
mountain laurel and rhododendron.
in clusters and range in size from that of a small pea
to a marble. They are deep in color, ranging from blue
to maroon to purple-black, and feature a white-gray waxy "bloom" that
covers the surface serving as a protective coat.
The skin surrounds a semi-transparent flesh that encases
are the most widely grown fruit crop in the US.
Blueberries are native
to North America, where they grow throughout the woods
and mountainous regions in the US and Canada.
This fruit is rarely found growing in Europe and has
only been recently introduced in Australia.
There are approximately
30 different species of blueberries, with different
ones growing throughout various regions.
Indian natives used blueberries in pemmican, a traditional
dish composed of blueberries and dried meat.
not cultivated until the beginning of the 20th century.
They became commercially available in 1916.
Blueberries are rich
in Vitamins C, manganese and dietary fiber
raspberries are members of the rose family.
Raspberries can trace a long history dating back to prehistoric
times. While wild raspberries are thought to have originated
in eastern Asia, there are also varieties that are native
to the Western Hemisphere. The seeds of these raspberries
were likely to have been carried by travelers or animals
that came across the Bering Straight during ancient times.
The spread of wild
raspberries through the world seems to have occurred
via similar means. The early hunter-gatherers traveled
to far distances to collect food. On their treks back
to the villages they would discard what they considered
to be inferior quality foods, including the smaller
sized raspberries. Thus began the propagation of these
plants in other areas.
There seems to be
no evidence that raspberries were cultivated until this
millennia, with the first written mention being found
in an English book on herbal medicine dated 1548. Raspberries
began to be grown more widely in Europe and North America
in the 19th century when many new varieties such as the
loganberry and boysenberry were developed through either
accidental or intentional crossbreeding.
leading commercial producers of raspberries include
Russia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Germany, Chile and the United
The strawberry is a member
of the rose family. It is the only fruit with seeds on the outside
rather than the inside.
A strawberry is not an actual berry, but a banana is.
On average, there are
200 seeds in a strawberry.
Over 53 percent of seven-
to nine-year-olds choose strawberries as their favorite fruit.
Eight strawberries will
provide 140 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin
C for kids.
Native forms of strawberries
adapt to various climates and are indigenous to every major
continent except Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
The fruit size of the
very early strawberries was very small.
Seventy per cent of
a strawberry's roots are located in the top three inches of
Strawberries are the
first fruit to ripen in the spring.
One cup of strawberries
is only 55 calories.
Strawberries, like other berries, are a rich source of phenols,
especially anthocyanins and ellagitannins. The anthocyanins
provide the strawberry with its flush red coloring but also
help protect cell structures in the body and prevent oxygen
damage in all of the body's organ systems.
Strawberries' unique phenol content make them a heart-protective
fruit, an anti-cancer fruit and an anti-inflammatory.
Strawberries also protect against macular degeneration and
The flavor of a strawberry
is influenced by weather, the variety and stage of ripeness
Ninety-four per cent
of United States households consume strawberries.
According to the United
States Department of Agriculture, the annual per capita consumption
of fresh and frozen strawberries is 4.85 pounds.
Strawberries are grown
in every state in the United States and every province of Canada.
75 percent of the nation's strawberry crops. Florida is second
Lebanon, Oregon's annual
strawberry festival is home to the world's largest strawberry
Strawberries are delicate,
requiring gentle handling to prevent bruising. Strawberries
shipped from far away are produced for their ability to hold
up to shipping conditions.
Madame Tallien, a prominent
figure at the court of the Emperor Napoleon, was famous for
bathing in the juice of fresh strawberries. She used 22 pounds
per basin, needless to say, she did not bathe daily.
The American Indians
were already eating strawberries when the colonists arrived.
The crushed berries were mixed with cornmeal and baked into
strawberry bread. After trying this bread, Colonists developed
their own version of the recipe, and Strawberry Shortcake was
In Greek and Roman times,
the strawberry was a wild plant.
The English "strawberry"
comes from the Anglo-Saxon "streoberie." It was
not spelled in the modern fashion until 1538.
In 1780, the first strawberry
hybrid "Hudson" was developed in the US.
Legend has it that if
you break a double strawberry in half and share it with a member
of the opposite sex, you will fall in love with each other.
The strawberry was a
symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love, because of its heart
shapes and red color.
Queen Anne Boleyn, the
second wife of Henry VIII had a strawberry shaped birthmark
on her neck, which some claimed proved she was a witch.
To symbolize perfection
and righteousness, medieval stone masons carved strawberry designs
on altars and around the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals.
The wide distribution
of wild strawberries is largely from seeds sown by birds. When
birds eat the wild berries the seeds pass through them intact
and in good condition. The germinating seeds respond to light
rather than moisture and therefore need no covering of earth
to start growing.
In parts of Bavaria, country folk still practice the annual
rite each spring of tying small baskets of wild strawberries
to the horns of their cattle as an offering to elves. They
believe that the elves, who are passionately fond of strawberries,
will help to produce healthy calves and abundance of milk in
The strawberry is an
accessory fruit; that is, the fleshy part is derived not
from the ovaries (which are the "seeds",
actually achenes) but from the peg at the bottom of the hypanthium
that held the ovaries. So from a technical standpoint, the
seeds are the actual fruits of the plant, and the flesh of
the strawberry is a vegetable. It is greenish-white as it develops
and in most species turns red when ripe.
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