What is blackberry?
Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus agg.) was deliberately introduced into New South Wales from Britain in the 1840s for its fruit and for making hedgerows. Shortly after, it escaped into the wild and by the 1880s was recognised as a significant weed.
Blackberry is most common in south-eastern New South Wales. The weed thrives in a wide range of habitats, invading both grazing lands and natural ecosystems. Blackberry fruit and seeds are spread by birds and foxes and in waterways such as creeks.
Blackberry has been declared a noxious weed in NSW and is also listed as a Weed of National Significance.
Why is blackberry a problem?
Blackberry impacts the environment and agriculture. Blackberry forms dense thickets that exclude native species, leading to its complete dominance of the vegetation understorey and eventually the canopy. The thickets also limit people’s access, alter fire regimes and dominate the landscape.
Managing blackberry in our national parks
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) uses different control methods to achieve the best results and minimise impacts on native species.
Blackberry control programs use:
- Biological control – introducing blackberry’s natural enemies.
Blackberry leaf-rust fungus has been released as a biocontrol agent. Because blackberry is genetically variable, new strains of the rust are also being trialled. CSIRO research in Western Australia shows promising results; however, control success is often dependent on climatic conditions.
- Herbicides – the most commonly used control method throughout Australia.
- Mechanical control – methods such as slashing, grubbing (digging out by the roots), bulldozing and burning.
For more information on blackberry control refer to DPI NSW WeedWise.