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Carefully observe the wildlife around wild berry plants while hiking in the parks. Don't pick the fruit because many insects, reptiles, birds and mammals need this excellent source of vitamins and nutrients to survive and wild plants & berries growing may not be safe for human consumption.
What is that wild berry that the Comma Butterfly is eating in the picture below? Could it be a Wild Red or Black Raspberry or maybe a Blackberry? How do you tell the difference between these similar plants that are so beneficial to our wildlife in our parks? Despite their name, neither fruit is a true berry. Botanically, they are considered aggregate fruits which are composed of small drupelets or individual bumps on the fruit. Each drupelet contains a seed.
Wild Red Raspberry and Black Raspberry plants both have round stems which differentiates them from the Blackberry plant. They have dark green serrated leaves on top and a much lighter color below. The leaves are compound with 3-5 leaflets. The first year growth will have a green bluish white powder on the stem. The second year growth will produce the fruit. It has a more reddish purple powder on the stem. The raspberry fruit is hollow if you look underside of it.
Want to determine whether it is a Red or Black Raspberry plant? Look closely to observe the thorns, actually called prickles. If the prickles are finger spaced across and larger than it is a Black Raspberry. If the prickles are smaller and not very prickly than it is a Red Raspberry plant.
The Blackberry plant looks similar to the Black Raspberry plant because they are "cousins" in the plant world. It's stalk is sometimes called a cane and isn't round. It is thicker, yellow in color and has ridges and angles on it. The drupelets are smooth and glossy with no little hairs. The entire berry comes off the stem, so they'll have a white or green core where they were attached to the stem. Remember the raspberry is hollow.
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MetroParks provides opportunities to experience open green spaces near home. Pick the time of day that fits your busy schedule to spend some time with nature. Hike a trail, wander through natural habitats, view wildlife or just play! Please consider donating to further MetroParks ability to provide these resources.