Thornless Black Raspberry

rosethyme(z7TX)June 6, 2009

Are there any black or red raspberry varieties that have fewer thorns or thornless? Also not too seedy? I'm in north Texas and being a berry newbie, not sure what varieties do well here in zone 7b. Also need advice about blackberry varieties that grow well here...hopefully thornless.

Also, where is a good online mail order nursery for berry plants?


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glenn_russell(6b RI)

Hi RoseThyme-

I don't know of any black raspberries which are thornless, but "Joan J" is the only red raspberry that I know of thatÂs truly thornless. I planted a bed of Joan J last year, so itÂs still early to make any real conclusions. WeÂve had some good discussions on it here and here. As for my other red/yellow varieties, some are more thorny than others, but really, they rarely cause me (or my 2&4 year olds) a problem. I do find the thorns of a black raspberry to be more formidable. Thorny blackberries, by contrast, are vicious. IÂm glad I do have my bed of Joan J, but I have 15 beds total. Based on my limited experience, if I was just going to pick 1 variety to plant, IÂd have to have a real aversion to thorns to pick Joan J over my other favorites like Caroline or Prelude.

I find that my wild blackberries are quite seedy. I donÂt mind, but I could see how others would. My cultivated blackberries arenÂt all that bad, but I do notice a couple seeds. With my cultivated raspberries, I never notice them. is the best place to buy raspberries, bar none. IÂve never seen a single complaint about them. They are also the only nursery with a perfect Garden Watchdog rating that I know of: see here. And they sell Joan J. My only hesitation in recommending them to you is that they are so far away from you (in MA). It may still be worth it though. Perhaps someone else can recommend a nursery closer to you? Always check the rating of a nursery before you buy by Googling the name of the nursery and then the word "Scoop". So, in this case "Nourse Farms Scoop".

Unfortunately, it may be too late to order raspberries by mail now. ItÂs pretty late in the season/year. You could still plant some from your local nursery, but theyÂll be much, much more expensive this way, and youÂll have a very limited variety to choose from.

I canÂt speak for the best varieties of blackberries for Texas hopefully others can. But, I know that for me, IÂd never consider a thorny variety when there are so many great thornless varieties. I like my ChesterÂs, and I canÂt believe how productive they are, but other people diss them, and itÂs probably because I donÂt know anything better. After all my research, I added some Triple Crown and Doyle thornless blackberries. IÂm happy that I donÂt have to worry about containing them as they spread just via tip-rooting. Other blackberries spread by runners like raspberries.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 9:22PM
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Hi Glenn,

Thank you so much for your very helpful advice. :) I will wait and order from Nourse as they do have a wonderful reputation....and everyone says, much better plants. Will check out Lowes just to see what they might have. I did order a couple of Triple Crown blackberries and Heritage raspberries. But I read that the black raspberry has more health benefits....antioxidants. I love blackberries and I'm sure they are very beneficial because of their color. Want to grow my own as they are so expensive in the store...I buy frozen ones.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 7:09AM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

Hi Rosethyme-

Glad to help!

Often the big box stores like Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart will attempt to sell raspberries in cartons. By carton I mean a square paperboard box perhaps 4 inches square, 6" tall which bright pictures on the outside and a dead cane sticking out the top. These cartoned (bare-root-ish) plants are junk. You can read about my experiences (and those of others) if you search this site for "glenn_russell carton". Basically, just don't fall for them.

Also, often the variety that Home Depot or Walmart will sell in those cartons is a summer variety like Latham. I'm not saying that "summer" varieties are bad necessarily, but because it is a summer variety, it means you will need to wait an extra year before you get berries. And, why wait if you don't have to? For me, 11 out of my 15 beds are "fall", or "everbearing" varieties (like Heritage). Before you purchase, make sure you know the difference between "everbearing fall" and "summer" raspberries and know which of the two your intended purchase will be!

Be sure and look for a yellow variety like Anne or Kiwi Gold (but not Fall Gold) while you are there. No berry patch is complete without them.

Good luck, -Glenn

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 3:37PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

In most of TX, Apache is supposed to have the best quality of the erect thornless blackberries. This is according to Jim Kamas, one of A&M's extension horticulturists. Don't know how that compares to Chester or Triple Crown.

The Fruitnut

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 3:03PM
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Will definitely check out Apache...thanks. I found a berry nursery in Lindale, Texas that has excellent feedback:

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 11:47AM
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