Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Amazing Blackberry! Food and Herbal Medicine

Blackberries are tasty food as well as herbal medicine

It is a wonderful time of year when the blackberries ripen, full of great flavor! Don't tell anyone but they are good for you too.

The blackberry bushes offer a trinity of benefits to the sensitive gardener, such as a luscious fruit, alluring white blossoms, and a healing herb.

That's right that tasty fruit is an herbal medicine. It has been respected in Chinese herbal medicine where it is known as Piao, and in the European tradition as well. The ancient Greeks used the blackberries as a remedy for gout. In England its leaves were applied directly to the skin to soothe burns and scalds. Blackberry bushes grow wild throughout the United states and in many other temperate zones thought North America. The long, thorny stems, serrated leaves are produced in a stellate pattern, loosely clustered blossoms, and shiny dark berries characterize the blackberry bush. The purplish blue berries are composed of numerous small druplets, each containing a tiny seed. They grow in meadows, coppices, forest boarders, waste areas and pastures.

It is a vigorous, expansive plant, as any gardener that has tried to thin, confine, or eradicate it knows. One the blackberry is established, the vines arrange themselves in a dense, thorny mass. Rooting them out is difficult, since their root fragments and will continue to send up runners. It is better just to make sure that your blackberry patch has enough room to grow and prosper without becoming intrusive into any other part of the garden or yard. They can be trained to grow on supports, as raspberries do. This is most easily done with young starts. There is also a thornless variety available but some to think this lacks some of the flavor of the wild berries. I tend to agree with them.

Blackberries are propagated by layering branches, or by root cuttings. Take a root cutting about 1/2 inch long in the autumn and store it in sand over the winter. In the early spring when the ground has begun to loosen from the winter cold, set the cuttings into the soil. place them erotically, about 1-3 inches apart and cover them with about 3 inches of soil.

Blackberries will grow in many types of environments, but do best in loose moist soils. The addition of well-rotted compost and manure to the base of the bushes in the spring and autumn will insure you of maximum development and health.

The berries, roots and bark have all been used for healing purposes. the berries are said to have a stringent quality. both the berries and the root have been used in Native American, European, and Chinese medicine to treat diarrhea, and dysentery. The root is much more potent than the berries, and it is the part used most often for these purposes, as a simple decoction, or a decoction mixed with milk.