Colorado’s wild blackberry bushes provide nutritious food for birds and area wildlife. People also enjoy gathering these wild berries for jams and jellies. These also make flavorful snacks while hiking in the foothills. Wild blackberries grow on trailing and spreading shrubs that form a dense thicket in areas with favorable growing conditions. Several varieties of blackberry bushes produce flavorful, darkly colored berries. Look for wild blackberries the next time you go hiking in Colorado’s back-country.
Look for blackberry bushes during the summer to locate large brambles before berries set. If you want to gather a number of berries for jams and jellies, map out the locations ahead of the harvest. Fresh berries do not last long on the bushes. You will be competing with the native wildlife, such as mice, deer and birds, for these tasty treats. Use binoculars to examine areas without easy access. Look along trails and roadways in sunny locations with well-drained soil compositions. These berries thrive in many areas of Colorado with sufficient exposure to bright sunlight. Notice any spiny, prickly shrubs growing in masses, or brambles. Recognize blackberry bushes out of season by their thicket-forming habits and lacerated leaves. Look for bramble thickets with deeply colored greenish-red leaves above an understory of pale leaves.
Recognize blackberry shrubs in the early part of summer by their blossoms. Look for dense thickets of these brambles with small, white and pink flowers. White and pale pink buds form near the ends of small branches and open to form dainty flowers that measure about an inch across when fully opened. The blossoms of wild blackberry bushes appear in clusters on these prickly thickets.
Gather berries from blackberry shrubs in Colorado in the late summer and early fall. These wild berries form during August and September, depending on the type of shrub and their climate. Look for small batches of red and dark purple berries along the tops and sides of thickets. Upon close inspection, each berry resembles numerous tiny balls stuck together. Do not anticipate large blackberries, like the kind you find at the supermarket. Wild, Colorado blackberries normally mature at a smaller size. Pull ripe berries from the brambles with your thumb and forefinger. Ripe berries readily separate from the shrubs. Avoid picking red blackberries. These berries are not ripe and do not ripen off the plant.