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Thread: why are invasive blackberries bad?

  1. #1 why are invasive blackberries bad? 
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    i went out today to get some exercise and do something useful at the same time by volunteering at a local tree hugging/planting/trail making sort of organization. i had never done this sort of thing, but we (the volunteers) met up at a local park, and we spent the day killing blackberries. the whole time, i was wondering why i was doing it.

    after a quick internet search at home, i found that the species we were removing were Himalayan blackberries, which are apparently overrunning the NW (i live in seattle)

    from first glance, it looked like they were taking over the local tree/brush so that the area would turn into basically a mass of bramble bush - so it would change the local ecology. but that sort of thing happens all the time, so im still wondering why these invasive plants need to be killed - how much damage exactly do they do?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Sudden changes in local ecology tend to kill a lot of local species that are specialists in one way or another - they're best adapted to their particular ecology and cannot evolve fast enough to deal with rapid environmental change. And yes, I'm sure completely natural invasive events have been very common throughout this planet's history - but local nature lovers and many scientists prefer to preserve the existing ecology if possible, and especially if the invasion is a direct result of human activity, many feel that we are responsible for stopping it. Considering that there are probably few natural means by which a plant from the Himalayas could reach the northwest US, your blackberry invasion is probably the fault of humans.


    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  4. #3  
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    raspberries are pretty nasty where I am from. If you plant a small patch of them, they quickly overgrow and outcompete things around them if you don't manage it year to year. The only thing that didn't get hit by them when I saw it happening was a giant tree and an established berry bush that was quite robust. Analogy!!

    It's great for people that have an obssessive love for blackberries, like me, but bad for any plant trying to compete and bad for those that have an irrational disdain for blackberries.

    If you are a person who hates blackberries, I doubt we can be friends. :P
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  5. #4  
    Time Lord
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    Those were deliberately planted as the railroads were built - we have them also in BC. They slow our fast coastal forests' encroachment over tracks.

    I don't believe they much threaten forest succession. Himalayan blackberries thrive in disturbed soil. And here that means dense rich soil as most of the world knows "soil", not the thick mat of twigs, punk, and needles our advanced forests rain down and root beneath. The shallow-rooted, nutrient-hungry blackberry cant' thrive there. Of course if the area was logged and perhaps burned eighty years ago then you might have good conditions for a combo of mature firs (natural forest to a layman) plus blackberries. In time the climax species will make life miserable for any plant intolerant of heavy shade and highly acid soil - if it roots deep enough to find soil that is!

    The fact that naturalized Himalayan blackberries produce a quantity and quality of fruit that is revolutionary to this region makes them kinda hard to resent. I confess to starting them deliberately on two of the Gulf Islands, along with some other foreign species. My opinion of the Pacific NW forests is that they're rather dead and stifling. I'm speaking of the vast majority of land, that was clearcut early last century. This is an unnatural situation of canopy locked by evergreens, all grown up at the same time. The crowded forest growth grinds to collective halt. It's damn oppressive to the understorey and oppressive to diversity (the deep forest can't boast much natural diversity even in the best cases). In time it'll mix up... or, we could gently thin, which is yet unprofitable if done to restore an untampered state (i.e. no weedy access roads). So in the meantime, whatever our goals, I feel parks and margins overrun with blackberry are just dandy.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I feel parks and margins overrun with blackberry are just dandy.
    not to mention delicious since blackberries are the king of berries.
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  7. #6  
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    The largely overgrown fields (on cleared land) do harbour rats and look atrocious during winter. But that's a human estimation. There's a lot more biomass and diversity of fauna there than in a forest. Flowers, bees, butterflies... these the natural forest won't allow.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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