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Bramble in the British Isles is any rough, (usually wild) tangled prickly shrub, specifically the blackberry bush (Rubus fruticosa), or any hybrid of similar appearance, with thorny stems. It may also refer to the blackberry fruit or products of its fruit (e.g. bramble jelly). The shrub grows abundantly in all parts of the British Isles, and harvesting the fruits in late summer and autumn is a favourite pastime. It can also become a nuisance in gardens, sending down its strong suckering roots amongst hedges and shrubs. In the United States (and elsewhere?) the term "bramble" also refers to other members of the Rubus genus, which may or may not have prickly stems - notably the raspberry (Rubus idaeus) or its hybrids. The word comes from Germanic *bram-bezi, whence also German Brombeere, Dutch Braam and French mûre.
Bramble bushes have a distinctive growth form. They send up long, arching canes that do not flower or set fruit until the second year of growth. Brambles usually have trifoliate or palmately-compound leaves.
Bramble fruits are aggregate fruits. Each small unit is called a drupelet. In some, such as blackberry, the flower receptacle is elongate and part of the ripe fruit, making the blackberry an aggregate-accessory fruit.
Many species are grown and bred for their fruit. Ornamental species can be grown for flowers (e.g. Rubus trilobus), for their ornamental stems (e.g. Rubus cockburnianus), and some as ground cover (e.g. Rubus tricolor). Members of the Rubus genus tend to have a brittle, porous core and an oily residue along the stalk which makes them ideal to burn even in damp climates. The thorny varieties are sometimes grown for game cover, and occasionally for protection.
Most species are important for their conservation and wildlife value in their native range. The flowers attract nectar-feeding butterflies and hoverflies, and are a particular favourite of Volucella pellucens.
Bramble leaves are used as a main food source for captive stick insects.
Split bramble stems are traditionally used as binding material for straw in production of lip work basketry, such as lipwork chairs and bee skeps, and sometimes used to protect other fruits (strawberries).
There are many different systems developed for the commercial culture of blackberries and raspberries. Bramble cultivars are separated into several categories based on their growth habit. They are categorized as erect, semi-erect, or trailing.
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