A mystery fruit in our garden has turned out to be a Japanese Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius) – also called wineberry or wine raspberry. Apparently the Latin name means “raspberry with purple hairs”. It is native to Eastern Asia, but after being introduced to Europe and North America for the purposes of breeding new hybrid raspberry varieties, it has escaped cultivation and naturalised, sometimes to the extent of being considered invasive.
In our garden there are a mass of sprawling canes at the foot of a tree near the house, and another less healthy plant in a small flowerbed against the wall of the house, so we think they were probably planted by the owners-before-last.
They intrigued me first by having very bristly but not too prickly stems and very hairy, bristly pointed seed pods. They also have lovely fresh green soft leaves which are almost heart-shaped.
When the fruits emerge, they look a bit like small, very bright red blackberries. I love the way the fruits all develop at different rates within the one bunch, and when ripe they almost start to pop off their bright orange cone-shaped receptacles.
I should add that the fruits, although small, are very juicy, and sweet but with a slight tartness to them – refreshingly delicious!