Foraging Wineberries: a Delicious Invasive

Wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius) are one of the most abundant of summer’s brambleberries. In fact, they are often listed as an invasive species. Luckily for foragers, they are also delicious.

wineberries
Finding and Identifying Wineberry

Look for wineberries in summer, usually just after black raspberries stop fruiting and before or at the same time as the blackberry season. They grow in full to partial sunlight or occasionally even partial shade, along roadsides, in parks, and at the edges of fields and clearings.

Wineberry canes can grow as long as 8 feet. Like other brambleberries (plants in the Rubus genus), these canes or stems arch over at their ends and can form dense thickets. Instead of the prickles (often called thorns) that blackberries and raspberries have, wineberries have hairy bristles that are the color of orangutan fur if the plant is growing in full sun, but closer to green if growing in shade.

The 3-parted leaves are toothed, and the upper surface is green but the undersides are white. The 5-petaled flowers are white and less than an inch in diameter with the many stamens characteristic of Rubus and other plants in the Rosaceae plant family. They grow in loose clusters.

Wineberries are compound fruits like raspberries, but orange-red in contrast to red raspberry’s red and black raspberries dark purple. Your fingers will get sticky when you pick wineberries – consider that part of the ID.
How to Harvest Wineberries

Rubus phoenicolasius is an introduced Asian plant that spreads so aggressively city park departments assign volunteers to weed it out. Enjoy the delicious fruit, and do not feel even a tiny bit guilty about depriving the birds of the chance to spread the seeds of this invasive species.

Although wineberry’s bristly canes aren’t as likely to scratch you as blackberry prickles, it’s still not a bad idea to wear long pants and sleeves if you know you’re going on a major wineberry gathering foray. Pick the fully ripe fruits (if you need to tug, the berry isn’t ripe) and place them in your collection container. Use a container rather than a bag so that the berries don’t get smashed in transport.
Eating and Preserving Wineberries

Wineberries are lovely fresh, but they are also good in preserves and baked goods. Like all brambleberries, wineberries freeze well and make excellent jam and jelly.

The one thing that sounds obvious – making wine from wineberries – is something that I haven’t tried yet. If you beat me to it, invite me over to sample some, okay?

An earlier version of this post was published on Mother Earth News.
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One response to “Foraging Wineberries: a Delicious Invasive”

  1. Emma Cooper says:

    It’s hard to think of wineberries as a invasive plant, as I have planted them by choice in the garden and they’re no trouble! But I guess, left to their own devices, they could be like blackberries, which spread by themselves in the UK. But no one thinks to call them invasive… probably because they, too, are delicious!

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