European blackberry (Rubus plicatus) is a blackberry species originating from Eurasia, which has spread to other parts of the world, including North America. It is a perennial plant of the Rose family (Rosaceae). Its common name, Blackberry, relates to the tasty black fruits that gradually ripen from late summer to autumn.
It is a small deciduous shrub with prostrate canes that have sparse thorns. It has large three-lobed serrated leaves and produces white or pinkish flowers that bloom in early summer.
Despite being a little-known herbal material today, its leaves were considered valuable and widely used centuries ago. The ancient Greek physicians – Hippocrates and Dioscorides were the first to describe their astringent and antidiarrheal effects. At the beginning of the 20th century, German doctor Gerhard Madaus also discovered their positive impact on glucose levels in the blood.
Blackberry leaves are still used to this day for the treatment of various illnesses, including diarrhea, dysentery, and hemorrhoids. Some studies have found that they also have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.
The fruits are edible and contain beneficial vitamins and minerals. They have a pleasant sweet and sour taste and can be eaten fresh or processed into jams, jellies, or desserts.
The blackberry is also an important food source for wild birds and small mammals. It can provide habitat and shelter for animals and also help prevent soil erosion.
In some parts of the world, it has become an invasive species, spreading rapidly and pushing out native plants. Blackberries are capable of forming dense stands that are difficult to control and can disrupt ecosystems.