By Sarah Hamilton

Brambles are the tangled, prickly shrubs and canes commonly found in the Rubus genus. Oregon has a number of native, agricultural, and invasive Rubus, of which Armenian (Himalayan) blackberry (R. bifrons) is just one. Our native Rubus provide flowers for pollinators, food and refuge for birds, bears, and other wildlife (and people), and stabilize soils along streams and on steep hillsides. They can be found in a wide range of environments: from open disturbed lands to old growth understories; full-shade to full-sun; and moist to droughty areas. Invasive blackberries, on the other hand, are incredibly aggressive and form impenetrable thickets. While invasive Rubus does provide food for pollinators and birds, larger wildlife are impeded by the strong prickly canes, the aggressive growth decreases biodiversity in invaded ecosystems, and the dense thickets can even contribute to erosion. It’s important to know how to tell invasive blackberries from native Rubus when you’re controlling blackberries on your property. That’s why Marion SWCD developed this easy guide to identifying some of the common Rubus of the Willamette Valley.