In ditches and along river banks, the berries are beginning to ripen. Great green mounds of shrubs – all leaves and thorny branches – are speckled with dark purple fruit. Younger berries are still green or red, and most bushes still have flowers on them as well.
This is the Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), one of the most common berries around. It is also one of the only non-native invasive berries in the area. Though it’s delicious in pies, smoothies and endless other treats, this shrub can be a nasty problem for native habitats: I’ve seen it smother entire fields, leaving no space for native plants and the animals that depend on them. Usually you’ll see it in disturbed places and on poor soils. Despite the name, the bush originally came from western Europe and there is “no evidence” that it came from the Himalayas.
One nifty thing about this “fruit” is that it’s actually a bunch of small fruits – each little nub on the berry is called a “drupelet” in botany-speak.