Everything you need to know about blackberries in national parks

Everything you need to know about blackberries in national parks

Tempt­ed to eat wild black­ber­ries on your next bush­walk? Hold up before you pick any – here’s what you need to know.

The end of sum­mer and start of autumn rings in black­ber­ry fruit­ing sea­son. As berries ripen they change colour from green, to red, to black.

You can spot black­ber­ry shrubs while enjoy­ing South Australia’s Mount Lofty Ranges in Belair Nation­al Park or Cle­land Nation­al Park along the pop­u­lar Water­fall Gul­ly to Mount Lofty sum­mit hike.

But this sweet tast­ing black­ber­ry is actu­al­ly a thorny weed for South Aus­tralia. So be care­ful – don’t pop that deli­cious look­ing wild berry in your mouth, it may have been sprayed with chemicals.

Pesky weed of a berry

The pop­u­lar black­ber­ry vari­ety found through­out SA is the Euro­pean blackberry.

As its name sug­gests, this prick­ly fruit-bear­ing shrub is from Europe and arrived in Aus­tralia dur­ing the 1800s to enjoy in teas, for med­i­cine, and in fruity pies and jams.

Over time the exot­ic shrub became an annoy­ance to the nation. The Euro­pean black­ber­ry inva­sive­ly crowds out native veg­e­ta­tion, pinch­es the water sup­ply, pro­motes soil ero­sion, and pro­vides food and shel­ter for pest ani­mals like fox­es and blackbirds.

There are 15 species of the weedy black­ber­ry from Europe seen across SA.

Today the Euro­pean black­ber­ry is regard­ed as one of the worst weeds in Australia.

Sprawl­ing berry control

To con­trol the sprawl­ing Euro­pean black­ber­ry shrub reg­u­lar chem­i­cal spray­ing is car­ried out in our parks and reserves, and by coun­cils across the state.

The poten­tial­ly poi­so­nous chem­i­cal spray is absorbed into the plant through the leaves and, or, its roots. Doesn’t sound so appeal­ing now does it?

For­ag­ing in SA

In SA, under the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, native and exot­ic plants can­not be removed from our parks and reserves with­out permission.

So for those with the wild for­ag­ing urge, there are many spots out­side of the state’s pro­tect­ed parks and reserves to go black­ber­ry picking.

These include wet­ter areas on the Eyre Penin­su­la, scat­tered loca­tions along the Ade­laide and Mount Lofty Ranges, as well as forests in the South East – with some iso­lat­ed infes­ta­tions in the River­land, Kan­ga­roo Island, the Mid North and Yorke Penin­su­la. But check first whether the wild weedy shrub has been sprayed!

Black­ber­ry shrubs as a habitat

Even though it’s a declared weed, black­ber­ry shrubs do pro­vide a home for native ani­mals, such as endan­gered south­ern brown bandi­coots.

When bandi­coots and black­ber­ry shrubs are both present, it’s impor­tant to make sure that black­ber­ry removal is staged, so that there is always suit­able habi­tat available.

If you sus­pect you might have bandi­coots on your prop­er­ty – or if you know you do – con­tact your local Land­scape South Aus­tralia office for help man­ag­ing the weed.

And if you’d like to learn more about the re-emer­gence of these endan­gered bandi­coots in Kuit­po For­est, check out our blog.

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in March 2017.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living