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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

23 September, 2009

Bramble (Rubus fruticocus)

Whilst out for a stroll, scouring the blackberry bushes for interesting things to see and photograph, it occurred to me just what a vital plant the common bramble is.

I guess we all take brambles for granted, they can be found just about anywhere and are usually an untidy mess of entwined twiggy branches with very sharp thorns. Often not tolerated, especially in gardens where they can be an unwelcome invasive weed and yet one of the mainstays of our native fauna.

A member of the rose family the white or pink flowers in mid summer are a key nectar source for countless insects and masses of Gatekeeper butterflies gather round them and it where you will often find Ringlets. Bees, hoverflies and other flies and beetles can all be found on the flowers.

When the flowers are over and the fruits come so again insects feed on the them, Red Admiral, for example, being a typical blackberry fancier. At night small mammals nibble at the fruits too.

The leaves are eaten by caterpillars and leaf miners and the little gall wasp, Diplolepis rosae, lays its eggs in in the stem which create the well known Robins Pin Cushion.

Spiders galore, especially the Common Cross Spider, use the branches as anchors for their webs as they know there are rich pickings to be had around bramble bushes. Those branches, with their sharp thorns, provide shelter for other animals and bush crickets can often be found in the inner depths of a bramble bush (I use my bat detector to locate them).

On top of all this, a favoured pass time for us humans every autumn is to go blackberrying and take our pick of the choicest fruits.

Thank heaven for the common bramble!