The marionberry (Rubus L. subgenus Rubus) is a cultivar of blackberry released in 1956 by the USDA Agricultural Research Service breeding program in cooperation with Oregon State University.[1][2][3] It is named after Marion County, Oregon where the berry was bred and tested extensively in the mid-20th century.[1]

Hybrid parentage'Chehalem' × 'Olallie'
OriginMarion County, Oregon, 1956

A cross between the 'Chehalem' and 'Olallie' varieties,[1][2] it is the most widely planted cultivated blackberry in the world.[4] Marionberries account for 90% of the worldwide acreage of cultivated blackberries.[4]

Description and flavor Edit

Marionberries may be called caneberries due to their typical extensive growth on long canes (vines) and brambles.[5] Marionberries are an aggregate fruit formed in a cluster of many juice filled sacks called drupelets.[5]

The marionberry plant is a vigorously growing trailing vine, with some canes up to 20 feet (6.1 m) long.[1][3] The vines have many large spines, and the fruiting laterals are long and strong, producing many berries.[6] The berry is glossy and, as with many blackberries, appears black on the plant, but turns a deep, dark purple when frozen and thawed.[2] It is medium in size and tends to be conical, longer than it is wide.[2] The berry has a somewhat tart, earthy and sweet flavor.[2]

Development and cultivation Edit

The marionberry was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. It was bred by George F. Waldo as a mix between the small, flavorful 'Chehalem' berry and the larger, better-producing 'Olallie' berry.[1] Both the 'Chehalem' and 'Olallie' berries are caneberry hybrids. Waldo made the initial cross in 1945, selected it as OSC 928 in 1948 in Corvallis, and tested it in Marion County and elsewhere in the Willamette Valley.[1] The berry was released in 1956 under the name Marion – the county where it was first cultivated and tested.[1][7] It is considered to be a "trailing" blackberry vine suitable for management in cultivation.[8]

Oregon produces 90% of blackberries annually for the US market,[9] with Marion County and the Willamette Valley collectively accounting for most of that production.[7][9] The marionberry is well-adapted to the mild, maritime western Oregon climate, with its frequent rains and warm summers.[7][9]

Marionberries ripen throughout spring and early summer, reaching their peak during July when they are hand-picked or machine-harvested.[4][7] Some 900 Oregon growers produced marionberries, as of the early 2000s.[7] The harvesting season is typically between July 10 and August 10, with a single acre producing up to 6 tonnes (5.9 long tons; 6.6 short tons) in a harvest.[2][7]

There is a hybrid variety with boysenberry in Australia called Silvanberry. Classed under the blackberry family, Silvanberry plants have many characteristics commonly found among other blackberry varieties. These plants are long living (15 to 20 years) perennials, hardy and cold tolerant, easy to grow, and productive spreaders.[10]

Not an invasive species Edit

Although related to a blackberry species considered to be a noxious weed – the Himalaya blackberry (R. armeniacus) which is an aggressive invasive species[8] – marionberries are not invasive because they do not readily germinate to grow new canes from seed.[11] They are commonly pruned and trained on trellises.[8][11]

Marionberry pedigree Edit

The pedigree of marionberries involves 44% of Rubus ursinus, 25% of R. armeniacus, and 6% of R. idaeus (the red raspberry).[4]

Red Antwerp
Pacific Blackberry
Eastern Blackberry
Red Raspberry
Black LoganYoungberry

In popular culture Edit

Marionberries – as fresh or frozen fruit or in various products, such as jam, syrup or ice cream – are widely consumed and prized by visitors to the Willamette Valley as a souvenir.[4][7]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Finn, C; Strik B; Lawrence FJ (1997). "'Marion' trailing blackberry". Fruit Varieties Journal. 51 (3): 130–3.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Marionberry". The Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission. 2023. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  3. ^ a b Danovich T (5 October 2016). "What's behind Oregon's marionberry mania?". The Salt, NPR. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bernadine Strik (31 January 2019). "Marionberry". Oregon Encyclopedia, Oregon Historical Society. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Varieties". The Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission. 2023. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  6. ^ "Blackberry". Encyclopedia Britannica. 15 June 2023. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Monica Mersinger (19 August 2005). "Marionberries: A delicious part of Salem's past". Willamette Heritage Center. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  8. ^ a b c Finn, Chad; Strik, Bernadine (1 December 2021). "Blackberry cultivars for Oregon". Extension Service, Oregon State University. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  9. ^ a b c "Why Oregon". The Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission. 2023. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  10. ^ Amy Grant (20 July 2022). "Silvanberry Planting - How To Grow Silvanberries". Gardening Know How. Retrieved 5 August 2023.
  11. ^ a b Strik, Bernadine (1 June 2015). "Are marionberries invasive?". Extension Service, Oregon State University. Retrieved 6 August 2023.