Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) is a bramble that grows across Michigan. It is a sprawling vine-like shrub that forms into a thicket. The berries are easy to use and harvest with no toxic lookalikes when ripe.
Black Raspberries are frequently found in disturbed areas (for example those that have been logged or cut), but also appear in meadows, along streams and lakes, along trails and roads, and in open woods. They will grow in shady and sunny areas, but produce the most berries if they receive some sun.
Black Raspberries are the first brambles to appear in the early summer, before Red Raspberries and Blackberries
IdentificationBlack Raspberries grow on canes that are generally arched. They get to be around 6 feet in length, but can be smaller. The canes have sharp, curved thorns.
Black Raspberry leaves are compound, doubly toothed leaves with sharply pointed tips. They grow alternately along the canes, usually having 3 leaflets but sometimes 5. Black Raspberry leaves grow up to 3 inches long.
Black Raspberries start out green and hard early in the season before progressing through a series of color changes: yellowish, salmon-colored, bright red, purplish-red, and purplish-black when ready.
HarvestingBlack Raspberries are relatively easy to pick. The darkest berries (black) are what you want (growing up to ½ inch across), leave the unripe ones for a later time. They will pull easily off of the receptacle (core) when they are ready. The fruits will be hollow when harvested.
Because of the thorns, long sleeves and pants are often helpful.
Black Raspberries can be used as you would any other berry. They are great raw or used in baked goods.