Skip to Content

Do Blackberry Bushes Have Thorns? (All You Need to Know)

Different varieties of berries such as raspberries, black raspberries, and dewberries usually grow on harsh, intertwined, thorny shrubs.

Since blackberries are also a member of the berry family, typically you might be inquisitive enough to know whether blackberry bushes have thorns as well or not. 

Let’s quickly put an end to your inquisitiveness by reading further concerning this topic. 

Do Blackberry Bushes Have Thorns?

Native and wild blackberry shrubs have thorns as native blackberries grow in Bramble bushes that have harsh, prickly, arching branches to prevent birds and critters from consuming blackberries and the vines prior to berry bushes blossoming. But the developed blackberry hybrids have thornless bushes.

Being one of the members of the berry family, blackberry bushes also have thorns present in them just like raspberries, dewberries, etc. 

But, not all species of blackberry bushes have thorns in them, only the native and wild blackberry bushes have thorns.

Because these native and wild blackberry bushes are typically thorny and rough fruits growing bushes known as the Bramble shrubs from the genus Rubus that mainly bear berries such as raspberries, dewberries, black raspberries, or blackberries.

Therefore, blackberry bushes also have biennial stems wrapped up with thorns and grow with arching stems. 

Another natural reason behind the native blackberry bushes having thorns is that the thorns in the arching canes of wild blackberry shrubs prevent birds and scuffing/hunting wildlife, and critters from consuming and destroying the vines prior to the blackberry bushes blooming and later on when blackberries are grown. 

However, nowadays thousands of new blackberry hybrids have been developed and these developed blackberry species grow in bushes with no thorns present in them.

This means except for the native blackberry shrubs, other hybrids of blackberries are grown in thornless shrubs which are easier to grow effortlessly in the home gardens. 

Why Do Blackberries Have Thorns?

Thorns on bushes with fruits are a means of guarding against the wandering herbivorous critters, so to serve the purpose of protection blackberry bushes have thorns. 

The predominant motive of thorns/prickles is staving off herbivory automatically. And thorns in blackberry shrubs serve the same motive by discouraging wondering big strikers such as deer that can strike the blackberry bushes and drop seeds at places where the seeds can’t germinate.

Therefore, the thorns on blackberry bushes are often classified as mechanical shields against wildlife strikers. 

Besides, the thorns are a way of staving off birds as well from eating/destroying the vines before the blackberry shrubs could flower so that the flowers can turn into fruits. 

Do Blackberry Plants Have Thorns Or Prickles?

Blackberry plants have prickles. According to plant morphology, thorns can be considered as a structure that is modified from the stem and are created by axillary buds.

Thorns are woody and relatively stronger and tougher. Also, a little difficult to break. For example, gooseberries.

On the contrary, prickles are comparatively smaller yet sharper structures that are a modification of the epidermis and cortex.

Simply to say, prickles are grown from the offset of the exterior of the epidermis. And they are quite softer than thorns, also can effortlessly be broken. For instance, roses and blackberries. 

So when you will carefully look at the pointy structure on blackberry plants, you will find similarities between the description of prickles and the pointy structure.

For example, those pointed outgrowths will be easier to break, soft, small, and are expansions of the epidermis and cortex. And these characteristics confirm that blackberries have prickles, not thorns. 

Do All Blackberry Bushes Have Thorns?

All blackberry berry bushes don’t have thorns. Thorns are only present in the native species of blackberry bushes as these blackberry-bearing bushes are Bramble bushes in the genus Rubus that are primarily known for being rough, arched, and prickly bushes. 

Except for the native blackberry bushes, the modern developed hybrids of blackberry-bearing shrubs don’t have thorns in them.

It’s because these hybrids of blackberry are often harvested at the home’s garden or blackberry farms, and these bushes really don’t require to defend themselves again wild strikers. 

Also, people prefer thornless bushes of blackberry as it’s easier to harvest and prune thornless blackberries, and there is no risk of getting pricked by thorns. 

What Kind Of Blackberries Are Thornless?

Newly developed hybrids of blackberries including Apache, Chester, Ouachita, Navaho, Triple Crown, Arapaho are thornless blackberries. Below short descriptions of these varieties are included. 


According to the Southwest Missouri State University, Apache blackberries are the hardiest of all thornless blackberry species.

Apache blackberries grow in erect bushes that don’t need support from a fence while growing and maturing into time fruits.  


Chester blackberry variety grows in a thornless semi-erect shrub that will require support to hold back its stems from drooping. 


Ouachita blackberries also grow in a thornless, upright, and erect bush and these blackberries are large-sized. They also require trellising while growing. 

Navaho blackberry species is the only thornless species of blackberries that have stems that don’t require trellising. And this blackberry is the sweetest containing 11.7% of sugar which is the highest of all blackberry species. 

Triple Crown:

Triple Crown blackberries are thornless semi-erect species of blackberries that will need support. It’s mainly known for being backyard garden friendly blackberry plant that grows large and sweet blackberries. 


Arapaho blackberries are the earliest and productive ones to ripe among all species of thornless blackberries that grow in an erect thornless bush. Also, Arapaho blackberries have smaller seeds than others.

Why Do Blackberry Thorns Hurt So Much? Are Blackberry Bush Thorns Poisonous? 

Blackberry thorns hurt so much because thorn fragments spur a localized soreness that reacts in the connecting lining tissue which directs to inflating, stiffness, discomfort, and loss of the range of movement.

Joint lining tissue is known as synovium and inflammation of it due to thorn pricking causes pain. 

Also, blackberry thorns are considered poisonous because these sharp prickles of blackberries can tear and poke holes in the skin causing puncture injuries named mechanical irritant dermatitis to people. 

Moreover, these small injuries will open an entrance for the pathogenic organisms which can cause further rashes. 

Can Blackberry Thorns Cause A Rash?

Blackberry thorns cause rashes on the skin. When the spikey thorns of blackberry bushes come in contact with the skin and poke holes in, it causes small puncture wounds that are known as mechanical irritant dermatitis, and the rash on the skin is an outcome of that dermatitis. 

How Do You Deal With Overgrown Blackberry Bushes?

If you have an overgrown blackberry bush in your backyard too, here two helpful ways are explained precisely that would help you deal with your abnormally grown excessively large blackberry bush. 


Pruning is the first way of dealing with overgrown blackberry bushes if you want to keep the plant instead of uprooting the plant entirely from the ground. But know that you can only prune blackberry bushes during the early spring and in late summer. 

During early spring, you should prune only the tip of the overgrown blackberry bushes as tip printing stimulates healthy plants with more fruits.

Do the tip pruning by using sharp and sterile printing shears and cut the stems for around 24 inches. If the stems are smaller than 24 inches, just prune the top 

And in the late summer when the blackberry bushes are done with fruiting, clean up the overgrown blackberry bush by eradicating the canes that already have grown fruits. Because those canes (2years old ones) will not grow blackberries again. 

Therefore, use sharp and clean running shears and cut any two years old canes to ground level to clear up the overgrown, messy situation.


If you want to eradicate the overthrow blackberry bush to deal with it, start with cutting all stems at the root ball level and bundle them together. Then dig down deeper and around the blackberry bush’s root ball.

After that till soil around the bush often and obliterate any new growth and wrap the soil with 4-5 inches coating of mulch and heavy plastic. Then weekly mow the blackberry bush with a lawnmower. 

Lastly, apply herbicides to the stems of the blackberry bush and the leaves. You must apply herbicides when the plant is shifting sugar from the leaves in the underground storehouse.

Apply herbicides on first-year canes in late summer and second-year canes in fall. Gradually the bush will lose its life. 

When Should I Cut Back Blackberry Bushes?

You should cut back blackberry bushes once in the spring season to facilitate the canes for branching out so that they can bear more fruits. 

And again, you should cut back the blackberry bushes (only the 2 years old canes that already have produced fruits) in the late summer to keep the bush clean. 

Final Thoughts 

Only the native blackberry bushes have thorns as these bushes are Bramble bushes in the genus Rubus. And the thorns defense the blackberry bushes against wild animals’ and birds’ srtrikes. Other than the native and wild blackberries, newly developed blackberry varieties are thornless.