The Grow Monster loves growing and eating berries out of its suburban garden. These include blackberries and black raspberries. I always hear people asking if Blackberries and Black Raspberries are the same thing.
Are Blackberries and Black Raspberries the same? Although they are from the same Rubus genus bramble berry family, blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis) and black raspberries (Rubus occidentalis) are really two very different aggregate fruits. In this post, The Grow Monster will explain the differences between blackberries and black raspberries to include differences in:
- Size and Weight
- Growth Habits
- The Bumps (Drupelets)
- Inside Cores
- Harvest Time
- Nutrition and Health Value
- Food Preparation
Size and Weight Difference Between Blackberries and Black Raspberries
There is a considerable difference between the size and weight of blackberries and black raspberries. Blackberries get the size and weight award as they are generally larger than black raspberries. Blackberries will generally grow 1″-1.5″ inches (3 centimeters) in length and weigh around 9 grams (.32 – .34 ounces) , whereas black raspberries will grow no bigger than your thumb nail and weigh between 3 to 5 grams ( .11-.18 ounces).
Growth Habits of Blackberries and Black Raspberries
The blackberry and black raspberry are similar in their growth habits, and grow in clusters called ‘brambles’. Both are considered sun-loving perennial plants that come up year after year with very active root systems below. What is growing above ground -the canes- are considered biennial. They grow vegetative canes up through the ground the first year (called primocanes), blossom flowers and bear fruit on the canes the second year (called floricanes), and die back the following winter. These plants aggressively continue to grow new canes to replace those that die back. The Grow Monster is not kidding when we say ‘very active root systems below’ as we continually observe new canes shooting up outside the flower bed where it was planted (or happened to sprout on its own). Be careful to only prune those canes that are dead or you do not want growing outside the designated bed. Do not prune back any new growth that you intend to harvest berries from the following year. In a way, they do grow like weeds once they get out of their designated area, and The Grow Monster recommends a shovel to sever, dig up, and install a root barrier to mitigate.
The Bumps (“Drupelets”) Difference Between Blackberries and Black Raspberries
One thing these berries do have in common is that they are both aggregate fruits. All those tiny bumps you see on both the blackberry and black raspberry are actually individual fruits called ‘drupelets’. It would be an interesting fact if the number of drupelets you see on the berry is directly proportional to the number of times a bee has landed on the berry flower to pollinate the flower. Okay, that is a lot of landings, but there is a correlation between pollination and the number of drupelets that eventually grow to make up the berry. Each drupelet contains one seed. The drupelet size on a blackberry are much larger than the drupelet size on a black raspberry. The blackberry receives the drupelet size award. However, there may be fewer drupelets on the blackberry (75-85 drupelets) as opposed to the black raspberry (100 to 120 drupelets). The black raspberry gets the drupelet award for quantity.
Inside Core Difference Between Blackberries and Black Raspberries
The inside cores of a blackberry and black raspberry are very different from one another. The blackberry has what is described as a ‘white’ core whereas the the core inside a raspberry is described as ‘hollow’ after it has been pulled from the ‘rasp’ that has been holding it in place. It is the cores that also contribute to the level of difficulty experienced when picking a ripe berry. Blackberries require slightly more tugging than black raspberries because their cores are more connected to the plant. Black raspberries –when ripened are relatively easy to pick as they separate almost effortlessly from the ‘rasp’ which results in their hollow core. It is because of the hollow core that some refer to black raspberries as “black caps”. However, if picking an un-ripened black raspberry, it will provide resistance as it is not yet ready to separate from the ‘rasp’ and because they are more delicate than a blackberry will result in damage to the fruit as you attempt to remove it from the plant. When it comes to the black raspberry, The Grow Monster has learned to stop picking and wait a little longer if the berries do not want to separate easily from the ‘rasp’.
Texture Difference Between Blackberries and Black Raspberries
The outside textures of the blackberry and black raspberry are very different as well. The blackberry has a smoother, glossier, shiney texture with the bigger drupelets on the outside of the berry, whereas the texture of the black raspberry is considered ‘hairy’ and contains a number of hair-like structures called ‘pistils’. These pistils are the remains of the female portion of the raspberry flower which some believe also contribute to protecting the berries later from insects and insect damage. These pistils will grow in between the drupelets of the raspberry.
Are Blackberries and Black Raspberries Harvested at the Same Time?
The harvest times for blackberry and black raspberry are slightly different as well and both are generally harvested in the summer. Because black raspberries are smaller and can handle the cold a bit better, they start growing sooner, mature quicker, and are harvested slightly earlier than blackberries. Their harvest times can overlap depending on season and location. The Grow Monster and family begins scouting out the wild brambles alongside the local roads/parkways in the spring time when they begin to flower and returns in June/July to pick them.
Do Blackberry and Black Raspberry Canes Look the Same?
Blackberry and black raspberry are both considered cane fruits. They grow long canes containing thorns out of the ground. However, the blackberry canes tends to grow taller (up to 10 feet), whereas the black raspberry tends to grow shorter and arch back down towards the ground. The cane stem of the blackberry tends to be more angular with ridges/edges along the stem, whereas the black raspberry has a smoother, circular diameter stem that is dusty bluish-white in color. Canes will pop up out of the ground from the main plant and begin to grow farther and farther out creating a ‘bramble’ of canes.
Blackberry Stems have ridges. Black Raspberry stems are smooth and whitish-blue in color.
How are the Leaves of Blackberries and Black Raspberries Different?
The leaves of blackberry and black raspberry are similar as both contain compound leaves of 3 to 5 leaflets. The leaves of both blackberry and black raspberry have serrated edges around the outside of the leaf. However, the leaves of each berry could be distinguished by the difference in color between the upper and under sides of the leaf. Blackberry leaves will tend to have a slightly lighter under side than the upper side of it’s leaf. With black raspberries, however, the undersides of their leaves are almost white.
The tops of Blackberry (top) and Black Raspberry (bottom) leaves. The back of Black Raspberry (Right) and Blackberry (Left) Leaves.
Do Blackberries and Black Raspberries Have Thorns?
There are also differences in the thorns of a blackberry and black raspberry. But lets preface this by saying there are some varieties that have been cultivated without thorns. The blackberry thorns are larger and slightly curved. They will tend to grab on to the unfortunate hand, finger, or paw that is picking berries from them and could draw blood. Blackberries do have larger fruits to protect. The thorn of a black raspberry -on the other hand (pardon the pun)- is a bit more forgiving in that the thorns are smaller and less likely to grapple with skin that comes in contact with them. In either case, The Grow Monster advises to wear gloves when picking these delicious berries.
Blackberry thorns are larger and closer together. Black Raspberry thorns are further apart on the stem.
Nutrition and Health Value of the Blackberry and Black Raspberry
Both the blackberry and the black raspberry are very healthy and contain the antioxidant called ‘anthocyanin’. However, the nutrition award goes to the black raspberry as it contains more antioxidants and anthocyanin (about 3 times as much) than the blackberry and may be considered one of the healthiest of berries.
Check out this comparison graph among berries that measures the oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) of a substance’s ability to absorb oxygen free radicals provided by Oregon State University Food Science here.
There are many health benefits that come with berries containing antioxidants and they include:
- helps fight inflammation
- improves cholesterol levels
- slows the development of heart disease
- anticarcinogen, anti-viral and anti-bacterial (due to their ellagic acid (phenolic compound) content)
Black Raspberries -because of their high antioxidant levels- continue to be researched as a super food for fighting cancer. Studies are beginning to show that extracts from these berries may slow or reverse the growth of breast, cervical, colon, oral and esophageal cancers among others.
Are Blackberries and Black Raspberries Prepared the Same?
The preparation of blackberries and black raspberries is not entirely different. What you need to know is that black raspberries are a bit more delicate and won’t keep very long if left out on the counter or refrigerator. The black raspberry will begin to turn mushy rather fast. Upon picking them, gently soak them in a bowl of water (versus under a faucet) so that the fruit do not break apart. This is especially true for the delicate raspberries and must be handled with kid gloves. After washing, spread them out on a cookie sheet to dry. For the best berry eating experience, it is advisable to prepare both berries as soon as they are picked. If they are not to be served immediately, they can be placed into a ziplock bag, sealed, and into the freezer. The Grow Monster loves freezing them along with a little bit of sugar to be made later for jams and pies.
Do Blackberries and Black Raspberries Taste the Same?
The flavor profiles of the blackberry and black raspberry are quite different as well. The tartness award goes to the blackberry, whereas the award for sweetness and fruitiness goes to the black raspberry. The Grow Monster loves putting them together for home made jams and pies.
Black Raspberries Ripening. Black Raspberry Bramble Blackberries Ripening Blackberry Bramble
It was our pleasure to highlight for you the similarities and differences between the blackberry and the black raspberry. They both come from the same Rubus genus bramble berry family, have similar growth habits with differences in their length, drupelet size, leaf colors, and cane stems. Blackberries are larger, have a thornier cane, and tart, whereas the black raspberry is much more sweeter, fruitier, grow on rounded canes, with more health benefits packed into a smaller, fragile package. They both have nutritional value with the black raspberry being one of the healthiest berries you can eat from the standpoint that it contains antioxidants with a multitude of health benefits. The Grow Monster wants to hear from you. Are you growing blackberries or black raspberries in your suburban garden? Do you have a berry bramble where you go to pick blackberries or black raspberries? Have any good blackberry or black raspberry recipes? Please leave your comments below!