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RASPBERRIES AND BLACKBERRIES

The status of the Andean berries today is not markedly different from that of the commercial raspberries and blackberries in other parts of the world, even in relatively recent times.

Worldwide, there are more than 3,500 species of the genus Rubus. These are brambly, wild bushes that carry edible fruit. Two (subgenera Eubatus, the blackberries, and Ideobatus, the raspberries) have enormous commercial significance in many countries throughout the world; most of the rest are little known. Even the commercial species were neglected until the last century. Blackberries (there are several different species) were first cultivated in the United States in the 1800s, becoming common about 1850. In Europe, although blackberries had been gathered for centuries, their cultivation as a domestic crop is perhaps even more recent than in the United States. The red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), a wild European bramble, was first domesticated in Greece and Italy in about 1600, and the black raspberry (R. occidentalis and R. leucodermis) was domesticated in the United States within the last 150 years.


it is profitable, and because its fruits are now exported to the United States. More than 2,500 hectares are planted in it, and near Bogotá 1,300 hectares are in commercial production. Three commercial varieties have been selected and are under cultivation in Colombia.

Although it is often the most common blackberry in the Andean markets, the mora de Castilla is barely known elsewhere. However, it has flourished in Haiti and is being grown in a small way in Guatemala and El Salvador. This could be an indication of its future spread.

Mora de Castilla is one of the Andean berries that is said to be superior in flavor and quality to most cultivated blackberries and raspberries. Its fruits are large (up to 3 cm long). When fully ripe, they range from dark red to nearly black in color. Their seeds are small and hard, with little flesh adhering to them. In flavor, they are rich and rather tart, much like loganberry, making them well suited for eating fresh as well as for use in juices, jams, and preserves. They are exceptionally juicy (the juice has a striking, purple-red hue) and make excellent jam, which tastes like jam made from black raspberries.

The plant is a vigorous shrub of luxuriant growth that, climate permitting, produces fruit year-round. Its canes, 3–4 m long, are armed with small, but very annoying, hooked prickles.2 They have a whitish,


2 The hooked prickles on canes and stems, and especially those on backs of leaves, make working on the plants disagreeable. They adhere to skin of the backs of hands, as well as to most gloves. Smooth gloves made of heavy plastic or hard leather are the only answer.


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