Posted by: travelrat | September 9, 2009

Blackberries and Rose Hips


Country folk used to have a saying that you shouldn’t pick blackberries after September the 19th, as, on that night, the Devil urinated on them, and made them taste bitter.

I think that either the Evil One did his rounds early this year, or maybe it’s something to do with global warming or climate change. The blackberries I tasted on my walk the other day were by no means the best I’ve ever tasted. What is surprising is that there are so many left; I guess it’s easier to buy a jar of blackberry jam in the supermarket than it is to make a batch.

But, when I was younger, everybody picked blackberries. I got tired of blackberry pies and blackberry jam around mid-October. To my Scottish cousins, though, they were a novelty, until they learned that the blackberry was exactly the same fruit as what they called ‘brambles’.

Equally prolific are the rose hips … that is, the seed-pods of the wild rose. There used to be a company (maybe there still is?) that produced Rose Hip Syrup. During WWII, and the years immediately afterwards, citrus fruit was almost unobtainable; I was eight years old before I ever saw an orange. But, Rose Hip Syrup was an acceptable substitute, as it was rich in Vitamin C.

To get the rose hips, they offered threepence a pound to people to collect them and, as an added incentive to younger collectors, badges to show how many you’d collected. So, usually, any wild rose bushes were stripped bare as soon as the hips turned red.

Not all the rose hips found their way to the factory, though. A small quantity were split open for the seeds which, placed down the neck of someone you didn’t like, made a very effective substitute for itching powder!


  1. I remember the bramble bushes. We also picked lots of gooseberries.

    When I was little I remember my mum giving us a rosehip syrup. Every baby and toddler in my family drank it. It was viewed as a kind of tonic. I wonder if people still do it.

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