Common Dewberry — a dilemma

Common Dewberry hovers along the ground in the highest, driest section of the meadow. Maybe you could say it overruns that area. Its long branches have a nasty habit of taking root every few feet, creating a tripping hazard. Its prickles, though not as aggressive as blackberries, snag gloves and clothing. I have been thinking that it could be the subject of my next plant of attack. So I read up on it through a link to an Illinois wildflower site (http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/savanna/plants/cm_dewberry.htm).

It seems the Common Dewberry is a delicacy or at least food for most of the fauna that use the meadow: “Faunal Associations: The flowers attract both long-tongued and short-tongued bees, including honeybees, bumblebees, Mason bees, Leaf-Cutting bees, Cuckoo bees (Nomadine), and Miner bees (Eucerine). These insects suck nectar or collect pollen. The flowers also attract butterflies, skippers, and various flies. Insects that feed on various parts of Common Dewberry and other Rubus spp. include Siphonophora rubi (Blackberry Aphid; sucks juices), Edwardsiana rosae (Rose Leafhopper; sucks juices), Metallus rubi (Blackberry Leafminer; sawfly maggot tunnels through leaves), Agrilus ruficollis (Red-Necked Cane Borer; beetle grub bores through stems), and the caterpillars of many moths. The drupes of Common Dewberry and other Rubus spp. are an important source of summer food to many upland gamebirds and songbirds. The Raccoon, Fox Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, White-Footed Mouse, and other mammals also eat the fruits, while the Cottontail Rabbit and White-Tailed Deer browse on the leaves and stems.

Those are strong arguments for leaving Common Dewberry alone. I will test the thesis that it will be less rampant as the meadow diversifies. Maybe I’ll start collecting its fruit as a cereal topping. There should be enough for the bees, butterflies, birds and other mammals.

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