Ridding the yard of an invasive scourge

Digging blackberry root - a futile effort?

Digging blackberry root – a futile effort?

Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) is one of the most intractable invasive plants in the Pacific Northwest.  It grows quickly, smothering other plants.  Its canes are covered with large thorns that make it impassable and difficult to clear. Its roots are notoriously deep, as we discovered when we tried to dig one out. Most insidiously, it produces sweet, juicy berries, irresistible to many mammals who eat the seeds and disperse them far and wide.

In yet another nod to the Yellow Peril hysteria that continues to this day, this demonic organism is assumed by many to originate from the Himalayas of East Asia.  In fact, it is native to Armenia and was introduced to North America by the European-American Luther Burbank, a pioneering horticulturalist known for developing a blight-resistant potato in the wake of the Irish potato famine.

Despite our backyard’s comprehensive concrete coverage, this unwelcome guest managed to colonize our space by rooting in the cracks and edges.  Perhaps because of the drought, it had not metastasized beyond control.  Numerous online sources advise that extracting the “crown” of the plant is enough to kill it, so we decided not to continue the backbreaking task of digging out the lateral roots completely.

In the end, the pile of canes filled an entire yard clippings bin.

blackberry brambles

Purged blackberry brambles

 

Here’s the last individual in our yard, protected for the time being by the remaining concrete slab.  Its days are numbered.

The last of the infection

 

 

 

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