Blackberries are an aggregate fruit (one composed of small drupelets) in the genus Rubus, which is in the rose family. Blackberries are an ancient staple food source, having been eaten for thousands of years and cultivated around the world. The common blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) is often lumped in with other cane-bearing fruits such as dewberries or raspberries under the name brambles.
Blackberries are perennial in their root system, but biennial with their canes. They colonize waste land quickly, growing canes of three to six yards in a growing season. These canes may root in the ground upon contact. In their second year, a fruiting cane grows from this initial cane, which flowers and sets fruit.
Blackberries are initially green, but turn from pink to red to a stark purple-black color when ripe. This color signifies a large amount of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants. Blackberries are also full of large seeds, which can be bitter, and provide texture. Ripe blackberries are about the size of a thimble, but can grow larger.
Blackberries have a distinctive sweet-tart flavor, somewhere between cassis and raspberry. They can be eaten out of hand (a common summer pastime in the southern United States), turned into jams or jellies, or made into pies. Oregon is the largest producer of blackberries in the world, with Serbia being another major producer.