Last Saturday, I did some invasive species removal with the Stanley Park Eco-Stewards. We removed Himalayan blackberry from some sites that had previously been cleared of invasive species and replanted with salmonberry shrubs. Because Himalayan blackberry is such a persistent plant – it, along with English ivy, is one of the most aggressive invasive species in Stanley Park – there were several spots in which it had grown back.
One of the most helpful things I learned during this eco-stewardship session was how to tell the difference between a Himalayan blackberry shrub and a salmonberry shrub – we wouldn’t want to be digging up the native salmonberry vegetation, after all! I’ll share with you some of the plant identification tips I learned.
Have a look at the picture below. It contains a Himalayan blackberry branch and a salmonberry branch converging with each other. Can you tell which is which?
If you guessed blackberry on the left and salmonberry on the right, you are correct! If not, don’t worry – let’s walk through it together.
First, let’s look at the colour and texture of the branches. The blackberry branch is green and thorny. The salmonberry branch is brown and smooth (Wild Berries of British Columbia tells me that younger salmonberry branches are prickly, and then they shed their prickles as they get older... I'll have to start paying more attention to these things!).
Secondly, notice the leaf pattern of each. Himalayan blackberry leaves tend to consist of 5 leaflets, each of which round and then end in a point. Salmonberry leaves have three leaflets that are more angular in shape:
A good trick that Ivy, our Stewardship Coordinator, taught us: if you fold down the top leaflet of a salmonberry leaf, you get a butterfly!
Try the same trick with a blackberry leaf, and here’s what you get:
It’s useful to note that there are exceptions to these identification rules. I’ve certainly seen some salmonberry branches (I think they are, at least!) that are green…
… some Himalayan blackberry canes that are reddish…
… and some Himalayan blackberry leaves that have three leaflets (though note that the overall leaflet shape is much rounder than that of a salmonberry leaflet):
But hopefully sticking with the aforementioned guidelines will help you to identify these shrubs. Happy plant ID-ing! For those readers with a little more nature expertise, please let me know in the comments if I've made any mistakes.