Nearly every Texan that grew up with ties to the country has memories of picking blackberries or dewberries in the spring. These things are absolutely loved and the easiest things to identify. Relatives of roses and they look and act like it with their woody canes, prickly / thorny canes and vines, and toothed leaves.
Dewberries and blackberries are pretty much identical in looks and flavor. Only difference is dewberries lay down and make a mat that you wade through and they ripen a couple weeks earlier in early May and have a whole lot of thin prickles that break off in your skin. Blackberries stand up and make thickets and ripen starting early June and have cat claw thorns like roses.
For the berries, you don’t need me to tell you what to do with blackberries. Treat dewberries the exact same way.
My only caution is the moment you start thinking about heading in the direction of harvesting, put on long pants, thick socks, good shoes, and tuck your pants into your socks, then spray extremely well with the most potent bug stuff you can get your hands on. Not just because fire ants love to build their mounds around them, but because of CHIGGERS. Some of you reading this just nodded your heads and shuddered. The rest of you are scratching your heads and asking “but what about snakes?” Chiggers crawl up until they get into moist tender flesh that you can’t scratch in public and then leave itchy bites that don’t heal for weeks and don’t stop itching. Trust me when I insist you SPRAY.
Yes, snakes are around dewberries and blackberries. Just watch where you put your feet down and don’t step on one.
Blackberry and dewberry leaf tea is also full of vitamin C and is a remedy for diarrhea, a gargle for throat inflammation, and a compress for wounds and rashes. It also helps regulate menstrual flow.
For a regular tea, dry the leaves and steep a few in a tea ball strainer for 3 – 5 minutes. For medicinal, 1 cup of dried fermented leaves in a gallon of water and boil until it’s reduced by 2/3rd. You may add sugar to taste. To ferment the leaves, pick the leaves and rip them up a bit, remove all the stems, wash well, wrap in a damp towel, crush them using a rolling pin a few times (roll them out kind of like a pie crust) and let sit for 2 – 3 days. Then dry and store.
You can also chew fresh blackberry leaves for canker sores and inflamed gums.
Young shoots are also edible as well peeled and used in salads.
Roots are also used as a cough remedy especially good for whooping cough.