Wild Flower of the Week
Bramble, Rubus fruticosus (known as Blackberry down south), is now in fruit. Botanically it is a an aggregate of microspecies which you need a microscope to identify. It has arching stems with hooked thorns that help it to scramble over anything. When the tip of a stem droops to the ground it takes root, sending up a new plant. That means bramble shoots can become natural trip hazards as well as tearing clothing. Brambles thrive in most soils and grow in the sun or in shade in woods, hedges, scrubby areas and on waste ground.
Hundreds of creatures use brambles at different times of the year. Insects visit the flowers for pollen and nectar, including bumblebees, honey bees, hoverflies, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies and lacewings. Spiders spin webs to catch insects. Moths such as buff arches, peach blossom and fox moths lay their eggs on bramble as it is their larval foodplant. Many small birds, foxes, mice and other mammals eat the fruits. Robins, wrens, thrushes, blackbirds, warblers and finches will nest in brambles and small mammals use it for protection from predators.
Traditionally wild brambles were collected to make jam or jelly. There are cultivated forms, some of which are thornless.