Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rubus ursinus~ First Nations Blackberry

Imagine my delight and surprise, while weeding in the back corner of the garden, to see blackberries growing all round the base of the apple tree! I had no idea they were in there - I thought there was just the usual morning glory and holly bush back there. These berries are not the Himalayan, non-Native species that abound all over the city and beyond. (Rubus discolor) that has "extensive regeneration capabilities." These are the more (relatively) gentle, Native species. (Rubus ursinus) It's also known as trailing blackberry, Pacific blackberry and Dewberry. I dug out my copy of "Earth's Blanket-Traditional Teachings for Sustainable Living" by Nancy J. Turner (one of my heroes, who, incidentally, has recently won the Order of British Columbia: ) this is from gardenwiseonline: Trailing blackberry found wide use among British Columbia’s coastal First Nations. Berries were eaten fresh or mashed for drying into cakes. Older red leaves, considered the most flavourful, were picked by some coastal peoples and boiled into a tasty tea. Medicine from leaves and roots treated ailments from dysentery to sores in the mouth. The vines supported and covered various types of food in steaming pits, and berry juice was used as a purple skin stain. Today, trailing blackberry leaves are used in several commercial herbal tea mixes. The plant’s most important contribution is as one of the parents of the delicious loganberry, which arose as a chance cross in Judge Logan’s garden in California.I think staining my skin purple with the berries might be fun! and I'm definitely going to watch for older, red leaves to make tea.

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